Salmonella confirmed inside four peanut butter jars - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Salmonella confirmed inside four peanut butter jars

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February 23, 2007

Sylvester-  Federal investigators finally confirm the connection between peanut butter made in south Georgia and a Salmonella outbreak in 41 states. The Centers for Disease Control says opened jars of Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter in three states tested positive for Salmonella.

That positively links the contamination to the ConAgra Foods plant in Sylvester. The Food and Drug Administration continues to analyze samples from the plant to determine the exact cause. Friday, the company has issued an apology.

Four jars of peanut butter that rolled off this line in Sylvester have tested positive for Salmonella in Iowa, Oklahoma, and New York.

"Testing on those open peanut butter jars obtained from people who were sickened by Salmonella have confirmed the presence of Salmonella," said Lola Russell, CDC Spokeswoman.

The CDC says that links the source of the contamination to the Sylvester plant.

"This is a vital link because not only does it connect it to those who have become sickened but it actually links it to the plant that's one of the key issues that occurred, that it didn't occur in someone's home," said Russell.

The announcement prompted ConAgra Food Chief Executive Officer to issue an apology saying the company is truly sorry for any harm that their peanut butter products may have caused. The findings still leave many unanswered questions.

"Now the question becomes how did the Salmonella get in the jar and that's something the FDA is working on?" questioned Russell.

While the FDA continues their trace back inside the plant, the line remains shut down and workers have undergone training at the Worth County Community Center, but that wrapped up today.

"No ma'am, they're supposed to handle everything this week," said Dan Miller, Worth Co. Commission Chairman.

The company said it's keeping workers informed about their duties and for now they're being paid for full time work. Despite the recently talk of lawsuits the community expects the company to survive.

"They're going to pick up and keep running good and strong they're just fixing to put a new roaster and all here," said Miller.

The hope is ConAgra can find the problem, correct it, and resume production.

The company said it would continue to update employees about their status but couldn't tell us what would happen to workers next week now that their training session are complete.

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