On January 13, 2009, the Peanut Butter Corporation of America announced a nationwide peanut butter recall after discovering one of the many, many products made with its peanut butter, contained salmonella, and six cases of salmonella have already been reported in Illinois. Though none of the affected peanut butter has apparently been sold directly to consumers, there are so many products that contain some amount of peanut butter in kitchens across the country, the scope of this recall is expected to be significant. Unlike recent food recalls for tainted lettuce and other vegetables, the food products containing peanut butter sit on shelves in stores and pantries for months or even years. Currently, the recall affects products produced after July 1, 2008. The FDA’s website contains current information about the peanut butter recall and the affected products.
Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause intestinal infections, and there are many types of Salmonella bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), most persons infected with this foodborne illness develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. To learn more about Salmonella, visit the CDC’s website.
The FDA continues to update the recall, and the American Peanut Council also lists brands which are not affected by the peanut butter recall.
In California, the law provides for strict liability in products liability cases, where a manufacturing defect, design defect, or insufficient instructions or warnings of potential safety hazards is a substantial factor in causing harm or personal injury. Depending on the nature and extent of injuries caused by tainted peanut butter, there may be a substantial number of personal injury claims all across the country.