Peanut Recall! Check Your Cupboards
Lately, peanuts have been causing some trouble. In January 2009, the FDA posted the Peanut Corporation of America's (PCA) nationwide recall of peanut products processed by its Blakely, GA plant. The recall was in reaction to a Salmonella outbreak, but also follows on the heels of heightening fears about fatal peanut allergies. Before anything else, below are the details of the peanut recall. If you have any products that you think might fall under the recall, please get rid of or return them immediately.
- The recall includes all peanut products manufactured at the Blakely, GA plant since January 1, 2007. (This plant is now closed.)
- These products were sent to most states, Saskatchewan in Canada, Korea, and Haiti.
- A very large range of products, including cookies, crackers, pet food, cereal, ice cream, and candy may be contaminated.
- You can check a frequently updated affected product database at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm.
If there is any product that you are uncertain about, please avoid its contact with people and pets, and wash any hands that may have accidentally touched one of these products. Salmonella can cause serious illness in infants, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system. Some symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. It is advisable to be suspect of any food item in your home. Many of the potentially contaminated products can be evaluated by the expiration date and Universal Product Code (UPC). For example, in February, Midwest Ice Cream announced its own recall of Meijer's Candy Bar Swirl ice cream in response to the PCA's expanded recall. It includes 56 ounce squares with a date of January 6, 2010 or earlier, and half gallons dated September 8, 2009 or earlier, both with UPC 4125000167. This information is found right on the product packaging. As mentioned, the recall was preceded by several years of increasing fear about peanut allergies. There is public debate about the seriousness of these fears. Some people are keeping all peanut products out of their homes, while others are blogging about the "overreaction." Whatever your feelings about the risks of eating peanuts, the peanut allergy itself is nothing to take lightly. A peanut allergy affects the immune system so that exposure to certain peanut proteins might cause anything from mild skin reactions, to vomiting, to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening constriction of the airways. Any contact - even as indirect as food being exposed to peanuts during processing - can trigger the allergy. Peanut allergies are thought to affect 1.5 million people in the United States, and account for 80% of anaphylactic shock annually. The recall and allergy fear have lead to an aversion that peanuts don't really deserve. Without Salmonella or allergic reactions, the peanut is actually a convenient and healthy food. Interestingly, peanuts are a part of the legume, or dried bean, family, and are not nuts at all. They are full of protein (more than any nut or other legume), vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats, fiber, and no cholesterol! Research has indicated that eating peanuts can reduce the chance of heart disease. Below are just a few of health benefits within one ounce of dry roasted, salted peanuts (showed as percent of recommended daily value):
- Dietary Fiber - 9%
- Folate - 10%
- Iron - 4%
- Magnesium - 13%
- Potassium - 5%
- Protein - 13%
- Selenium - 3%
- Vitamin B6 - 4%
- Vitamin E - 16%
For the time being, peanut consumption may understandably decline. But you and your family could continue to enjoy your favorite peanut foods if you make the switch to whole, unprocessed peanuts and peanut butter. This is the best way to avoid contamination, and stay healthy at the same time.