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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it has traced the salmonella bacteria linked to contaminated Peter Pan peanut butter that sickened hundreds of people to the Sylvester, Ga. plant owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc. where the product in question was made.
The agency confirmed the presence of the bacteria during an inspection of the plant, which ceased production Feb. 16.
So far 329 people have reported being sickened from the bacteria.
The agency said the fact that it found salmonella in the plant environment further suggested that the contamination likely took place prior to the product reaching consumers. Last week, tests by several states identified salmonella in many open jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter recovered from consumers. In these instances the salmonella found in the plant and in the open jars matched the outbreak strain recovered from consumers who became ill.
The FDA also said ConAgra had sent Peter Pan peanut butter to its Humboldt, Tenn. plant for use in ice cream and related toppings for such brands as Carvel and Sonic. Those related products have also been recalled.
A list of the recalled toppings products is posted on the FDA's Web site, at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01574.html.