Q: I just bought a jar of peanut butter last weekend. Is it safe?
A: This recent salmonella outbreak, thought to be caused by tainted peanut butter, has prompted the recall that involves King Nut peanut butter, which supplies products to food service operations.
None of this is sold directly to consumers, so your jar of peanut butter is safe to eat. However, because of the peanut butter recall, Kellogg’s has recalled Austin and Keebler products containing this peanut butter, including Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.
Q: How does salmonella get in peanut butter?
A: Salmonella typhimurium is typically found in poultry, produce, raw milk, cheese or from direct animal contact such as pet turtles. Peanuts can become contaminated with salmonellae during growth, harvest or storage, and the organisms can survive high temperatures in a high-fat, low-water activity environment. Peanut butter provides such an environment, and although it typically undergoes heat treatment to temperatures more than 158 degrees, such heating might not always eliminate salmonellae. Also, after heat treatment, peanut butter that is being processed might be contaminated by salmonellae that are introduced into the production environment on raw peanuts or another source (e.g., animals in the production plant, contaminated containers or other ingredients).
— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.