Hold the peanut butter

March 1, 2007

What's a parent to do, now that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich-that old standby that generations of picky eaters and their weary parents have relied on-is in jeopardy?

What's a parent to do, now that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich-that old standby that generations of picky eaters and their weary parents have relied on-is in jeopardy?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has traced an outbreak of Salmonella disease that has been going on for months to jars of contaminated peanut butter. Specifically, the FDA's official warning applies to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter with the numerals 2111 on the lid purchased since last May, where the contamination was found. The FDA says these jars should be thrown out.

But as soon as the FDA's warning was made public, peanut butter panic began to spread. Peanut butter disappeared from school cafeterias. Some schools went so far as to confiscate the peanut butter sandwiches children brought from home. The panic was not unwarranted; Salmonella infection is nasty. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain, and vomiting. According to the CDC, the outbreak has made 288 people in 39 states sick since last August, some 20 of them sick enough to require hospitalization. The most cases were reported in Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.