Monday, February 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Recall

Q: When is being allergic to food a good thing?

A: When that food is involved in a nationwide recall because it’s contaminated with salmonella.

Two years ago, in February of 2007, peanut butter made in the ConAgra Foods Inc. plant in Georgia was found to be contaminated with salmonella, and hundreds of people fell ill from it. Now, here it is February again, two years later, and another bout of peanut butter salmonella has cropped up, this time from peanut butter and peanut paste processed by Peanut Corp. of America in Georgia. Again, hundreds of people are falling ill – as of January 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site, 529 people from 43 states and one person in Canada have been reported infected, and “the infection might have contributed to eight deaths.”

Originally, the FDA thought the salmonella was only in peanut butter sold to institutions such as hospitals or nursing homes. But now they’ve realized it could be in any number of products that use peanut paste, from cooking sauces to baked goods, and even pet foods. The list of recalled products is up to 180 products now. (Click here for the CDC’s recall list.)

Silver linings are great, aren’t they? There isn’t often a silver lining to having a food allergy. But right now, there are probably about a million American families that are breathing a collective sigh of relief because this is one food problem they DON’T have to worry about. What a nice change of pace!

We’re always told to count our blessings. But sometimes we forget that blessings come in many disguises, and from the least likely of sources. But right now, I’m counting my son’s peanut allergy as a blessing. I didn’t have to worry about the food I put in his school lunch this morning. I don’t have to worry that my family will become deathly ill from a contaminated box of rocky road ice cream tonight. And I don’t have to spend this afternoon scouring my pantry shelves for the 180 products that have been recalled. I got rid of everything peanut-related 9 years ago. That means I can spend today doing something else, like taxes.

Um…Wait, did I say that was a blessing?

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