Colorado illnesses may be linked to Texas peanut plant

first_imgFeb 16, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A news report over the weekend linked six Salmonella cases in Colorado to peanut butter made from peanuts produced by Peanut Corp. of America’s (PCA’s) plant in Plainview, Tex., but the natural-foods retail chain that made the peanut butter says tests have found no contamination in samples.The Associated Press (AP) reported Feb 14 that Colorado health officials linked the cases to the Plainview Peanut Co. in Texas, owned by PCA, which also owns the Blakely, Ga., peanut plant blamed for the current nationwide Salmonella outbreak.The AP said the six Colorado cases were traced to peanut butter from Vitamin Cottage Natural Foods, based in Lakewood, Colo. Vitamin Cottage recalled its fresh-ground peanut butter on Feb 2 because of a potential connection to Salmonella cases.But Kemper Isely, co-president of Vitamin Cottage, said today that testing by the company and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed no contamination in peanut butter samples.”No Salmonella has been found in any peanut butter tested so far,” Isely told CIDRAP News. “Both our company and the FDA tested numerous batches. The implication that our peanut butter caused the Salmonella [cases] is a bit premature.”Isely said that 6 of the 16 Coloradoans who have had Salmonella Typhimurium in the current outbreak had Vitamin Cottage peanut butter in their pantries. “We don’t know whether it would’ve been our peanuts” that caused the cases, he said. “There’s lots of places you can get Salmonella.”Vitamin Cottage made peanut butter by grinding roasted peanuts bought from the Texas plant, Isely said. He said the peanuts were roasted in that facility at 350 degrees and so should have been free of pathogens unless they became contaminated after the roasting process.The company voluntarily recalled its peanut butter as a precaution, Isely said. The firm’s recall notice said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) had reported three people who were infected with the national outbreak strain of Salmonella and who reported eating Vitamin Cottage peanut butter. The CDPHE noted the recall in a Feb 2 news release.The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) ordered PCA on Feb 12 to recall all products ever shipped from the Plainview plant. “The order was issued after dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers were found in a crawl space above a production area during an in-depth DSHS inspection,” the department said in a news release.State inspectors also found that the plant’s air-handling system was not completely sealed and was pulling debris from the infested crawl space into production areas of the plant, leading to adulteration of food products, the DSHS said.Last week, the president of a private laboratory told a congressional committee that his firm had found Salmonella in a product sample from the Plainview plant on Feb 8. Earlier, it was revealed that the Plainview facility had operated without a license or government inspections from 2005 until the current outbreak put PCA in the spotlight.Colorado, Texas, and FDA officials could not be reached for comment on the situation today. Most government offices were closed for the Presidents Day holiday.The Salmonella outbreak involves 636 cases in 44 states and one in Canada, according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The FDA’s recall database page says the outbreak has triggered 2,226 product recalls, though no national brands of peanut butter have been recalled.In other developments, PCA applied for bankruptcy protection on Feb 13, according to a Reuters report. Citing the devastating effects of the outbreak and recalls, the company filed for Chapter 7 protection, under which firms liquidate their assets to repay creditors rather than reorganize, the story said.Meanwhile, a survey by the Harvard School of Public Health found some gaps in the public’s understanding of the peanut product recalls.More than 90% of respondents were aware of the recalls, and 61% said they had taken one or more steps to reduce their risk of getting sick from contaminated peanut products, according to a Harvard news release. But among those aware of the recall, 25% mistakenly believed that major brands of peanut butter were involved.Also, while 70% knew that peanut butter crackers were recalled, fewer than half knew that several other peanut butter products, such as snack bars, cakes, and cookies, were recalled, the release states. The survey of a national random sample of 1,283 adults was conducted between Feb 4 and 8.See also: Feb 12 Texas news release about recall order to Plainview plant Salmonella outbreak page product recall database 13 Harvard news release on survey of outbreak awarenesslast_img read more

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Jung Money: USC could end up playing in March

first_imgOllie Jung | Daily TrojanSince I finished my term as sports editor of the Daily Trojan in December, I’ve largely taken a break from watching the Trojans — following 20 programs over the course of the year can lead to some burnout. So even after getting an alert for USC’s 69-64 victory over Stanford on Wednesday night, I assumed that the men’s basketball program remained in a tailspin.Last I checked, USC had lost a class-headlining commitment from Taeshon Cherry and suspended sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton for the season in connection with the Tony Bland scandal. The FBI investigation cast a massive shadow over the start of the season, and head coach Andy Enfield’s squad plummeted from its No. 10 preseason ranking. A campaign that began with arguably the highest hopes in program history looked like it had gone down the tubes before the start of conference play.That’s why I did a double take on Thursday, when I saw the Trojans sat at second place the Pac-12 standings. I suppose it was easy to dismiss their chances during a 2-4 skid after Thanksgiving — including a 103-93 loss to Princeton at the Galen Center — especially when compared to USC’s perfect, 14-0 non-conference mark last season. But the Trojans have rebounded, racing out to a 7-2 start in Pac-12 play to put them at the conference summit alongside No. 11 Arizona (7-1). They earned consecutive wins at Oregon and Oregon State for the first time in the Enfield era last week. The team is riding a five-game winning streak, and after a month-long absence, it is back in the NCAA tournament in ESPN’s Bracketology projections. The usual suspects have spearheaded the Trojans’ resurgence. Junior forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright lead the way in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.4 and 15.1 points per game, respectively, and around seven rebounds per game each.Meanwhile, senior guard Jordan McLaughlin remains USC’s heartbeat, accounting for close to half of the squad’s assists this season while also leading the roster in steals. His clutch free-throw shooting steered the Trojans to victory at Oregon last week. As the team has rounded into form, it has also displayed its depth. Senior guard Elijah Stewart and freshman guard Jordan Usher joined forces from beyond the arc to rally the team past Oregon State two days after the win in Eugene, and sophomore guard Jonah Mathews came off the bench to pour in 18 points against Stanford on Wednesday. Redshirt junior guard Shaqquan Aaron and sophomore forward Nick Rakocevic — last season’s breakout stars — are still key contributors off the bench, and redshirt sophomore guard Derryck Thornton has been logging important minutes in his first season of eligibility since transferring from Duke in 2016. If this strong play continues, USC can legitimately aim to improve on last year’s round-of-32 performance at March Madness this spring, despite all the nervous buzz that has swirled around the program since September. As the Trojans re-enter the national conversation, however, they must avoid complacency. The team deserves praise for its mental fortitude during a distraction-filled season, but it now prepares for the toughest stretch in its schedule.USC hosts Pac-12 cellar dweller Cal this weekend. After that, though, the Trojans have a date with UCLA in Westwood followed by a road trip to face No. 21 Arizona State and Arizona back-to-back. The two Oregon schools visit Los Angeles once USC gets back from Arizona, then the team wraps up the season at Colorado, at Utah and, finally, versus UCLA at the Galen Center. It would only take three wins from the remaining nine games for the Trojans to match last season’s 10-8 record in the Pac-12. But even that is no guarantee with 10 of 12 teams in the conference sitting above .500 and boasting strong records at home. Road games in the Pac-12 have been a sore spot for Enfield since the head coach arrived in 2013, and five of them wait to wrap up the regular season. Fortunately, only USC’s clashes against the Bears and Utes are scheduled for the Pac-12 Network — the rest will be on national television. This means Enfield’s team has the chance to turn heads around the country as they take on their strongest opponents of the season in the fight for first place.The Trojans’ season hangs on this final run of games. They certainly aren’t irrelevant by any stretch — but they also haven’t proved anything just yet.Ollie Jung is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Jung Money,” runslast_img read more

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