General Mills Inc. and grocers Kroger Co., Safeway Inc. and Meijer Inc. have joined the growing list of food companies and retailers pulling items with peanut butter amid a salmonella outbreak that has killed at least six people and sickened more than 470 others in 43 states.
Kroger stores, including the one in Riverbend Center in Rome, have taken several peanut butter products off shelves as a precautionary measure, said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for the Atlanta Division.
For the safety of our customers we have withdrawn products that contain peanut butter as recommended by the FDA, he said.
In Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe, grocers were taking the products off their shelves and offering to provide full refunds to customers who bought the recalled products there.
Ron Freeman, Ingles corporate CFO, said the recall was provided to all their 199 stores.
We notify all 199 stores and tell them the numbers and the products so they pull them from the shelves, he said.
The same is true of warehoused items so new products will not go out, he said.
This is something we have to react to quickly, so there is little chance that customers can pick up recalled products, he said.
He said the same process applies when new products are added to the recall.
At the Dollar General Market on Battlefield Parkway, store manager Ron Tence said the grocery chain pulled the recalled products from its shelves.
We recalled whatever they told us, he said.
Karen Peterson, a corporate communications manager for Food Lion stores, said consumers interested in learning more about the recalls should check the Food and Drug Administration Web site at www.fda.gov.
Peterson, along with public relations professionals from several other corporate grocers, said he could not immediately provide a list of which stores were previously selling the recalled items.
A spokesman at Save-A-Lot at 323 LaFayette Road referred questions to the companies who originally sold the products.
Mike Richardson, Shop-Rite owner, said he and his warehouse check recalls each morning.
We pulled the (peanut butter) crackers, he said.
The peanut butter recall is for the bulk product that is products being used in other items, he said. He added that Little Debbie retrieved their items and the store placed the crackers in the back room for future credit from their supplier.
Fort Oglethorpe Wal-Mart managers referred comment to their corporate offices. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said the retailer has a process in place whereby cashiers arent allowed to sell recalled items once the item is entered into the system. She said Wal-Mart stores have removed recalled peanut butter items from the shelves.
Behind the recall
The Food and Drug Administration has traced the outbreak to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America, which manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste for distribution to institutions and food companies.
The government has advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods containing peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination. Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, officials said.
The FDA has created a searchable list of recalled products and brands on the agencys Web site. Salmonella, a bacteria, is the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever.
On Sunday, Peanut Corp. expanded its own recall to all peanut butter and peanut paste produced since July 1 at its plant in Blakely, Ga. The recalled products were distributed to institutions, food service industries and private label food companies in 24 states.
We deeply regret that this product recall has expanded, and our first priority is to protect the health of our customers, said Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp.
None of the Meijer brand products have been identified as contaminated nor linked to any illness, officials said. Meijer has taken these precautionary steps to help protect our customers, said Stacie Behler, vice president of public affairs for Meijer.
Kellogg Chief Executive David Mackay said the company would evaluate its processes to ensure we take necessary actions to reassure consumers and rebuild confidence in these products."
Other companies issuing recalls recently include Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa; Perrys Ice Cream Co. of Akron, N.Y.; and the South Bend Chocolate Co. in Indiana. Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, a division of St. Louis-based Ralcorp, recalled several brands of peanut butter cookies it sells through Wal-Mart stores.
Some companies were quick to assure their customers that their products were fine. Russell Stover Candies Inc., maker of Russell Stover and Whitmans, said Monday it does not use ingredients from Peanut Corp.
ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of Peter Pan peanut butter, said Saturday, Jan. 17, it was not involved in the investigation and neither the Omaha, Neb.-based company nor its suppliers use ingredients from Peanut Corp.
J.M. Smucker Co., the nations top maker of jams and jellies, assured customers on Monday, Jan. 19, that none of its products are involved in the national recall.
Orrville, Ohio-based J.M. Smucker, whose brands include Jif, Eagle Brand, Pillsbury and Smuckers, said it does not buy peanuts or any ingredients from Peanut Corp.
Staff writers Rachel Brown and Randall Franks contributed to this article