Salmonella outbreak prompts recall

Contributing Writer
Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Rhode Island Department of Health released a notice Tuesday advising consumers to avoid certain cashew butter, tahini and roasted peanut products made by Sunland, Inc., following 29 related salmonella cases nationwide, including one in Rhode Island.

Tuesday’s press release expanded on an earlier advisory warning against certain Sunland almond butter and peanut butter products.

Sunland, a New Mexico company, voluntarily recalled the products after they were linked to salmonella cases in 19 states. The recall affected several retailers nationwide, including Trader Joe’s, which has a store in Warwick, R.I. The recalled products were sold under a variety of brands and had “Best If Used By” dates between May 1, 2013 and Sept. 24, 2013, according to the press release.

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that causes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Health officials performed laboratory tests and investigations after people reported feeling sick, wrote Dara Chadwick, public information officer for the Rhode Island Department of Health, in an email to The Herald. The Office of Food Protection, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “continue to work closely” to deal with the salmonella outbreak, Chadwick wrote.

Most people infected with salmonella show symptoms 12 to 72 hours after exposure, recover within four to seven days and do not need treatment, according to the Department of Health. “Anyone who has eaten any of the products on the recall list and experiences any … symptoms should contact their doctor,” Chadwick wrote. 

Students can stay up to date on health advisories like the one about Sunland products by checking the Rhode Island Department of Health’s website, Facebook or Twitter, Chadwick wrote.

Paul Anderson, a store manager for the Warwick Trader Joe’s, is also dealing with the outbreak. Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter was one of the recalled products, but no samples have tested positive for salmonella, according to Friday’s press release. “Before the recall went into effect, we immediately pulled all of the items in question and destroyed them,” Anderson said. Signs throughout the store inform customers of the recall, and customers can return recalled products, Anderson said.

Esme Ricciardi ’15 is a Trader Joe’s customer who had not heard of the recall. She said she bought a 16-ounce jar of the Trader Joe’s peanut butter in June – she finished the jar, but did not experience any symptoms. 

The recall will not affect her decision to shop at Trader Joe’s in the future, Ricciardi said. “I mean, bad things happen to peanut butter. … The fact that they recalled it at all is nice,” she added.

Frances Brittingham ’14 is also a frequent shopper at Trader Joe’s. Brittingham said she has shopped at the Trader Joe’s in Warwick once since school started, and plans on going back once a month, despite the recall. “I may even buy the peanut butter next time I’m there. … Everyone has recalls,” Brittingham said.