Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Salmonella Traced to Texas Plant

Remember the previously unknown peanut processing plant found to be operating in Texas? Tests indicated the likely presence of salmonella at the plant, but more tests have confirmed that the bacteria found were of the same strain that has sickened hundreds and killed nine throughout the United States:

he test results offer new evidence that the outbreak attributed to a peanut plant in Georgia may have more than one source. Both the Texas plant and the Georgia plant were operated by Peanut Corp. of America, which filed for bankruptcy amid fallout from the outbreak that has sickened more than 600 and may have contributed to nine deaths. The outbreak has also prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, federal inspectors are taking a closer look at Peanut Corp.'s plant in Virginia, where records obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday show state inspectors repeatedly found health violations.

The link between the outbreak strain and the Texas plant surfaced after health officials in Colorado traced salmonella cases there to peanut butter sold by the Vitamin Cottage grocery chain.

The peanuts used in the Vitamin Cottage peanut butter came from Peanut Corp.'s plant in Plainview, Texas, the natural foods chain has said.

An opened container of Vitamin Cottage peanut butter tested positive for the outbreak strain, which came from a Colorado resident who got sick, company vice president Heather Isely has said. Earlier, the same strain of salmonella bacteria was detected in containers of peanut butter that had been produced at a Peanut Corp. plant in Blakely, Ga.

Texas officials have already ordered a recall of all products ever made at the plant.

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