andrew schneider investigates

May 21, 2009

The Internet will protect us from dangerous food? It’s a start, the White House says.

Two of President Obama’s cabinet officers today launched a government website as a step in improving the nation’s food safety system or, at least, giving the public a way to see whether the White House is making any progress with a problem that each year sickens tens of thousands and kills hundreds.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Kathleen Sebelius, the head of HHS, were named by the president in March to run the White House Food Safety Working Group.hhs_seal_bl_thmb

Vilsack says the group will be an important tool for strengthening the food safety system, making it more accountable and accessible to the public and flexible enough to quickly resolve new food safety challenges that emerge.
USDA logo
“Families have enough to worry about. You shouldn’t have to wonder if the food you buy at the grocery store is safe,” said Health Secretary Sebelius.

Here is a link to the site which the government says will allow people to stay apprised of the group’s progress, learn about food safety tools and practices, and share their views on how to improve the food safety system.

When Obama announced the formation of the group, he told the agency head that it must “ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them.”

Enforcement has long been a problem in the food safety arena as shown by the massive, disjointed, recall of salmonella-tainted peanuts which took months to reach a meaningful level.

The White House group says it will use a public health approach that focuses resources according to risk, applies the best available science and fights, what may be the most difficult battle: cooperation between federal, state, local and international groups.

May 16, 2009

Kill step and an adequate lethality. We can’t be talking about food.

salmonella   Photo CDC

Why would words like “kill step” and “adequate lethality” be in the lexicon of the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and major manufacturers of heat-to-eat food?

After putting aside all the complex government and scientific explanations, these war-like sounding phrases are steps that food producers hope and expect consumers will take to keep from being poisoned by salmonella.

I began chasing this issue a bit last year and when I spoke to food scientists at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. They told me that adequate lethality is a kill step, the point where the precise combination of temperature and cooking time will kill biological hazards in food.

They said that far too many consumers wrongly believe that when they pull a frozen meal from the freezer in the grocery it has already been treated to eliminate contamination to salmonella and other bacteria that can cause painful illness and sometimes death.

What most consumers don’t understand is that food packagers, especially those who manufacture frozen food, expect the consumer to take the kill step. The problem is that most shoppers have no clue that this safety burden has been dumped in their pot.

The Association of Food, Beverage and Consumer Products Companies issued guidelines last year for their food production members to pay special attention to instructions given to consumers when it came to foods “not-ready-to-eat.”

They documented that many consumers believe that food is heated for palatability or taste, but is not required for food safety. Because of this belief, people can and do become ill.

The association urged its members to develop instructions for preparing their frozen products that make it clear that the “food must be cooked at a time/temperature combination sufficient to reduce the number of pathogens that might be present . . . to a safe level.”

The key here is not heating, but cooking to the point required to “kill pathogenic microorganisms that may be present in many frozen entrees,” the guidelines cautioned.

A decade or more ago many food processors began labeling their products with phrases such as “Oven Ready,” “Cook and Serve,” and “Ready to Cook,” assuming that consumers would understand that cooking was necessary for safety, not just taste.

The FSIS safety specialists told me that among their greatest were frozen food that is microwaved since uneven heating of foods in microwave ovens has been implicated as a key factor in improperly cooked food products. This non-uniform heating leads to cold spots in the product, which may allow the survival of pathogens such as salmonella.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a national food safety advocacy group, explained that its researchers found that the most dangerous products to be cooked in a microwave are frozen uncooked, breaded chicken and turkey products, some breaded fish and frozen meat and poultry pot pies.

If you want more information on this battle of the bacteria, I urge you to read a fine, comprehensive piece of journalism by New York Times’ writer Michael Moss in Friday’s edition. It may shock you into cooking your foods long enough to make them safe to eat.

Here is a link to it.

May 13, 2009

Law enforcement and food inspectors say they’re closely watching the success of new tests that may keep bogus honey off store shelves.

Illegal honey laundering may become a lot more difficult because French scientists from the Université de Lyon have developed and tested a simple method that can distinguish pure, natural honeys from adulterated or impure versions that they say are increasingly showing up on store shelves.

The study by Bernard Herbreteau and his colleagues in Lyon, France was released this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

(c) Photo by a. schneider

(c) Photo by a. schneider

“The high price, limited supply and complexity of honey combine to encourage falsification,” the scientists wrote. “Indeed, despite the technological advent of modern analytical instruments, there is still a problem with the adulteration of high-carbohydrate foods, such as honey, with inexpensive syrups.”

In the U.S., there are four major civilian labs and one government facility that claim the ability to identify adulterated honey.

Yet, when it comes to proving where the honey actually came from, criminal investigators, some U.S. regulators and a only a few of the largest domestic honey sellers send samples to a German lab. The lab says it’s the only place that can identify the precise country of origin of a honey.

Mostly, this analysis is needed to identify falsely labeled Chinese honey, which is smuggled into the U.S. after first being sent to other countries. The Chinese honey often contains illegal antibiotics, according to government authorities.

Criminal investigators from the FDA and Customs and Border Protection (that I interviewed last year) told me they were waiting for verification of the French test.

They hoped it would be faster, less expensive and more consistent and reliable than the laboratory analysis now available in the U.S.

Herbreteau and colleagues say their highly sensitive test uses a special type of chromatography to separate and identify complex sugars on their characteristic chemical fingerprints.

The most common syrups used to adulterate honey are corn syrups and high fructose corn syrup.

“Honey adulteration has evolved from the basic addition of sugar and water to specially produced syrups from which the chemical composition approximately reproduces the sugar composition and ratios of natural honey,” scientists wrote.

Here is a link if you want to see the actual study,

Links to investigative series on honey laundering by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer can be found on this website on the page called “previous investigations.”

May 11, 2009

Honey laundering thrives despite fed crackdown on two operations smuggling tainted Chinese honey into the U.S. What’s on grocery shelves?

Federal invesHoney Chinatigators from various agencies in Seattle and Chicago  chased illegally labeled Chinese honey from the slums of the Philippines through dilapidated Thai warehouses and into ports up and down the west coast of the U.S.

The paper trail showed that some of the illegal honey was bought by a huge Midwest food distributor, which supplied major grocery chains, investigators said.

Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Chung Po Liu at his home in Bellevue, Wash., and Boa Zhong Zhang and Yong Xiang Yan at LAX as they arrived from China. All were charged with conspiracy for attempting to smuggle millions of dollars worth of honey – possibly contaminated with illegal antibiotics — into the United States.

The names of all three men and their companies came up in my five-month investigation into honey laundering, which was published by the Seattle PI in December.

Three of the many things I learned during that investigation were:
    This could never happen unless honey packers and sellers in the U.S. were involved.
    There is an enormous amount of contraband honey being smuggled into this country.
    Major, legitimate U.S. honey dealers are doing little or nothing to alert the Food and Drug Administration when they encounter illegal honey.

The 68-year-old Liu heads at least two Seattle-based companies, Rainier Cascade and Evergreen Produce.  Both companies import and sell honey to a long list of packers in the U.S. Liu works with Zhang, a 58-year-old Chinese national who is employed by Changge Jixiang Bee products Ltd., in Changge City, Henan Province.

Yan, according to investigators, is the president of the same Chinese honey manufacturing company which has 528 employees and has been in the honey business since 1985.
Yan was arrested for supplying tainted Chinese honey to Alfred L. Wolff, a major food distribution company in Chicago. Wolff supplies honey to packagers who sell it under a score of different brands across the U.S., investigators say.

A Customs and Border Patrol agent in a Tacoma, Wash. warehouse draws samples of Chinese honey that is being shipped to Chicago.  (c) Photot by a. schneider

A Customs and Border Patrol agent in a Tacoma, Wash. warehouse draws samples of Chinese honey that is being shipped to Chicago. (c) Photo by a. schneider

The criminal complaint, filed in Chicago, said the charges against Yan stem from an ongoing investigation (entering its third year) of the honey importing practices of Wolff, which is owned by Wolff & Olsen, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.
An FDA investigator familiar with the Chicago company told me that invoices he’d seen from two manufacturers who bought from Wolff showed that most of the honey was being sold to major grocery chains, where it was labeled as produced in the United States or Canada.
He said he didn’t know whether the chains that bought the bogus honey were notified of its actual country of origin. He added that he doubted it.
It is almost impossible for those who import and sell honey not to know that it’s Chinese. The price of honey from China is usually only about a third of the cost of honey from Canada, South America or other credible suppliers.

For example, Ron Phipps, of CPNA International, Ltd., publishes a frequent international market report on honey. In a recent issue, he explained that in January, 1.2 million pounds of honey entered this country at 37-cents a pound. At the same time, Canadian honey was crossing the border at about $1.55 a pound.

Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the Seattle office of ICE, said, “Those who misrepresent the origin of goods imported into the United States are motivated by greed and unfairly seek a financial advantage over those who play by the rules.’’

The issue goes beyond just the millions in import duties that were being stolen from U.S. coffers.  There are potential health risks involved because millions of China’s hives were destroyed by a virulent disease that swept through the country’s hives at tsunami speed. Beekeepers grabbed the strongest and cheapest antibiotics they could find – two from India and one from China – to fight back.

The most prevalent antibiotic was chloramphenicol. The drug is used to treat serious infections in humans, but is not approved by the FDA for use in food producing animals, including bees.

Honey containing chloramphenicol is deemed unsafe and adulterated within the meaning of the federal food and drug laws, Andrew Boutros, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago. said.

The presence of the antibiotic, even small amounts, is illegal.

During the PI investigation, I followed paper trails of illegally laundered shipments from China to countries throughout Asia and the South Pacific, where it was re-labeled to make it appear it was a product of those other countries. Then it was shipped on to the U.S.

Once those stories ran, people sent the PI evidence showing that Chinese honey was also being transshipped from Europe, South America and at least one African country.

The arrests and the investigation leading up to them demonstrated creative police work by ICE, Customs and Border Protection agents, and the offices of two U.S. Attorneys.  It was a solid, on the ground, door-knocking investigation that involved chasing intricate, multi-lingual paper trails.  (You just gotta love those search warrants.)

If found guilty of the conspiracy charges, the accused could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

February 11, 2009

A look at a real victim of the peanut butter poisoning

Members of Congress who repeatedly huff and puff over the treacherous deficiencies in the government’s protection of the nation’s food supply came face-to-face today with a 3-year-old boy who nearly died because his favorite snack was filled with salmonella-tainted peanut butter.

When Rep. Henry Waxman gaveled his House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing into action this morning, the parents of Jacob Hurley were there to describe how they came close to losing their son last month. And according to Waxman, it happened because of the apparent greed of the owners of Peanut Corp. of America and the Food and Drug Administration’s inadequate food-inspection system.

Waxman opened the hearing to a packed room by waving documents that he said showed that the Peanut Corp. of America was “a company that was more concerned with its bottom line than the safety of its customers.”

The California Democrat said the company was notified last September by a private lab that its products had tested positive for salmonella.

“In response, the president of the company, Stewart Parnell, sent an e-mail complaining that positive salmonella tests were ‘costing us huge $$$$$ and causing obviously a huge lapse in time from the time we pick up peanuts until the time we can invoice,’ ” Waxman saidf.

As the Seattle P-I reported today in its story on the “Peanut scandal’s weakest victims,” peanut and peanut products from the company, tainted with salmonella, have made at least 604 people sick, sent 187 to the hospital and killed eight.

Three-year-old Jacob was one of those sickened. His father, Peter, a veteran Portland, Ore., police officer, tells the committee that not only was his child brought down by the salmonella, but, because of FDA’s failure to order a mandatory recall of all products using the dangerous peanut butter from the Georgia plant, Jacob also continued to be fed his favorite snack crackers that contained the salmonella bacteria.

Seattle lawyer William Marler was asked to submit written comments to the committee. He had been involved in the aftermath of the 2007 poisoning of 400 people by Conagra’s Peter Pan Peanut Butter, which carried the same strain of salmonella as found in the Peanut Corp. of America products.

Marler told the committee what he had been urging for years: that the three main federal agencies responsible for food safety — the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the inspection arm of the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — be merged and adequately funded.

“The present system is trifurcated, which leads to turf wars and split responsibilities. We need one independent agency that deals with food-borne pathogens,” he wrote.

February 3, 2009

Medical helicopters and bad peanut butter — we know better.

I’m back in Washington this week, the one on the Potomac. It didn’t take me long to remember that the person staffing the Oval Office may not have a lot to say about how the government really functions.

The absurdities of how agencies do their jobs continues to stun the new president’s team, especially when it comes to how the Food and Drug Administration has, and is, handling the salmonella-contaminated peanut butter products.

Congressional offices were fielding hundreds of calls and e-mails from constituents who were angered or incredulous when they learned that the FDA wasn’t permitted to order the enormous recall of thousands of products that used peanut butter or paste from the Peanut Corp. of America without permission of the company.

Let’s try this again. The federal food safety authorities who are trying to crack down on the tainted products that have sickened 550 people and killed at least eight can’t just shut the villain down?

No. Not even when the FDA can show that PCA has knowingly sold salmonella-contaminated peanut butter 12 times in the past two years.

Further, the company even gets to pick and choose the wording that FDA uses in the recall.

“It’s has been this way for years. The company’s feelings come before the health of the public,” an investigator who fought the battle in the field and in headquarters for years told me Tuesday.

“It’s stupid and painful to have to stand there with our federal hat in our hands waiting for the company’s approval of the language we use and whether or not we even send the damn recall out.”

Yesterday, both Congress and President Barack Obama said there would be a top-to-bottom review of FDA operations.

Meanwhile, 11 miles away from the FDA, the National Transportation Safety Board was working its way through four days of hearings on why med-evac helicopters were falling out of the sky across the country.

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the safety board, said many of the nine fatal accidents could have been prevented and several of the almost three dozen fatalities could have been eliminated.

It looks as if we’re in another cycle of crashes, deaths, recommendations from the NTSB and failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to actually do anything.

The board says it will listen to more than 40 witnesses but has no plans to make recommendations.

“Why bother,” one accident investigator told me. “No matter what we say needs to be done, the FAA will again bow to the air ambulance industry and demand nothing.”

I have a troublesome perspective on why this NTSB expert is correct.

Twenty-three years ago, while at the Pittsburgh Press, two photographers and I investigated dozens of med-evac crashes and found many similar causes. Included were that hospitals that owned or leased the helicopters demanded or pressured air crews to fly in severe weather or greatly limited visibility, all to get the patients and their wallets back to their facilities. We were able to document that flight nurses, physicians, paramedics and patients were often killed when they struck their heads on sharp-edged emergency equipment attached to the ceilings and walls, or their spines and necks were broken when the flimsy seats collapsed. Meanwhile, up forward, pilots in helmets and strapped into crash-attenuating seats often survived the impact.

The NTSB confirmed many of our findings and issued a long list of recommendations for the FAA to make into laws and enforce.

Few, if any improvements were made, so again, hearings are being held on why livesavers were dying.

You think about it.

January 28, 2009

Prison for peanut execs who knew salmonella was present?

Filed under: FDA,Food poisoning,Food Safety,Risks to children — Andrew Schneider @ 16:53
The Chinese kill their food poisoners. What about the U.S. peanut butter execs who know salmonella was present 12 times.

Accidents happen, but the FDA has determined that the producer of the peanut butter that has sickened more than 500 people, hospitalized 127 and killed eight has a history of knowingly selling food contaminated with salmonella.

The FDA has identified approximately12 instances in the past two years when Peanut Corporation of America, in its own internal testing, identified some type of salmonella in the food and eventually released peanut butter for sale, said Michael Rogers, who heads FDA’s Division of Field Investigations in the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

Several of you have already reminded me that just last week, a Chinese court ordered the death of two men and a life sentence for a dairy executive for their roles in knowingly producing and selling milk poisoned with melamine. The tainted milk has killed at least six children and made almost 300,000 sick. The presence of the melamine, a chemical used in plastics, forced a world-wide recall of dairy and other products.

Fortunately, the numbers of unfortunates sickened in the U.S. was far, far lower, but, according to FDA’s Robert Tauxe, half of those brought down by the bad peanut butter are children.

Nevertheless, I can’t see the government demanding the death penalty for the gang at the Georgia peanut plant, but if they really knew it had salmonella and still sold it, that sounds criminal to me.

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in Washington, says that if further investigation show the action of the peanut executives violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act …then that is technically a 
violation of the law.

FDA’s regulations have “the force of law,” Sundlof says. “Whether or not there was any criminal activity involved is a different issue. We’re looking.”

Meanwhile, the American Peanut Council tossed its Georgia member to the wolves, saying the trade group was shocked and dismayed at the findings that the company “knowingly released a product with potential salmonella contamination into the food supply.”

“The findings of the FDA report can only be seen as a clear and unconscionable action of one irresponsible manufacturer…,” Patrick Archer, peanut council present, said in a statement.

January 26, 2009

Widespread concealment of tainted imported honey

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Food poisoning,Food Safety,Risks to children — Andrew Schneider @ 16:40

<![CDATA[Yes, I wrote yet another story on honey laundering.

Given the multiple crises we face, the fact that money-grubbing business people here and in China are shipping and importing honey that’s erroneously labeled and may contain illegal antibiotics probably isn’t at the top of your must-do list for our new president.

I agree.

The banned drugs that the Chinese added to kill the epidemic that was decimating millions of their bee hives will only harm a very small number of the people who eat it. But many of the phone calls and e-mail I received today in reaction to the story, said it’s important if your child or loved one is among that small number who are sensitive to the animal medication.

In today’s story, I wrote about the National Honey Board and Sue Bee Associates, the nation’s largest honey seller, having knowledge of the presence of tainted honey and not seeing the need or value of telling federal health inspectors about it. In the case of the quasi-governmental honey board, its CEO was told about contaminated honey on grocery shelves and he said he didn’t notify health authorities because it wasn’t his job.

After today’s phone calls, I can add three companies who allegedly shipped bad honey back to their supplier with the knowledge that the loads would be resold to other U.S. honey packers.

Two of the people who supplied this information say that they felt that nothing would happen unless and until some really bad honey made it though our porous borders and lots of people either got sick or died.

I guess that’s why I write about honey and other potential hazards that are low on the government’s crisis list.

And to the gaggle of you who ask if I don’t have more important public health investigations to chase before the owners close this newspaper down in 40-something days, the answer is yes.

I crank out what I can, and I’ll keep doing it until they toss us all out.

For those who care, here’s a link to all the honey stories.

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January 19, 2009

New recalls as angry mom sues peanut butter maker

Update: Safeway and Kroger add to long list of recalled products that possibly contain salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, paste or cream. Here is a link to FDA’s latest list of recalls.

Christopher Meunier is still a sick child even though it has been seven weeks since he first became deathly ill.

His mom, Gabrielle, joined a suit filed today against the Peanut Corporation of America in the US District Court, Middle District of Georgia. The company is believed to be the source of Salmonella Typhimurium which has poisoned people throughout the country.

Yesterday, Christopher’s mother told me that it was the day before Thanksgiving when her 7-year-old began showing all the debilitating and degrading intestinal symptoms that accompany severe food poisoning.

Eventually, Christopher was identified as the first case of Salmonella Typhirium documented in Vermont and one of the earliest of the almost 500 people, from infant to age 98, sickened in the U.S. and Canada from eating salmonella-contaminated peanut butter.

Chris, before salmonella

The child was hospitalized for six long days.

Now, some of Gabrielle’s pain has morphed into anger at the lethargy of the government’s efforts to identify the contaminated food.

“The wheels of the investigation are turning way too slowly and inefficiently,” she told me in an email this morning.

She says it was just last week that she learned that peanut butter-containing crackers, cookies, candy and snacks could also carry the disease. But, she charges, the government knew it and didn’t effectively pass the word to consumers.

Initially the Food and Drug Administration had maintained that the potentially lethal peanut butter made by Georgia-based Peanut Corporation of American was only a danger to institutions that purchased the company’s five-pound jugs.

Gabrielle and others only learned that the company also supplied peanut butter and peanut cream to companies that produced scores of products filling store shelves and bakeries when some of the manufacturers announced they were voluntarily recalling their products.

To date, the FDA has ordered no recalls, even after national food safety experts, including Seattle lawyer and internet star Bill Marler, told the FDA that immediate action was needed.

Back in Vermont, Gabrielle says a box of Keebler “Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers” is sitting on her kitchen counter  the same “crackers that my son had eaten before he got sick.”

“My son could have eaten these crackers again and potentially died. I have another son already weakened with a missing kidney and spleen. He could have died by eating these crackers,” said the frustrated mother.

She questions how the government can justify not screaming the warnings of the specific food products that could be dangerous in every newspaper, radio and television station.

She says she contacted the CDC, the FDA and Keebler about her partially eaten box of crackers.

“So here I sit with the crackers in my hot little hands and no one has stepped forward to test them,” Gabrielle says. “What a broken system.”

The Centers for Disease Control says that six people have died after eating the tainted peanut butter in one product or another. The federal health detectives say that they are investigating two deaths from Minnesota, two from Virginia, one from Idaho and one from North Carolina. And, they say, they are examining others that may or may not be related.

Obviously, there is more that the government could have and perhaps should have done. But tracking the culprits in nationwide food poisoning cases is rarely easy.

For example, The number of people sickened is expected to increase, if for no other reason then there is an inherent two to three week delay between the date that the salmonella illness starts, and the date that the case is reported to public health authorities.

What this means is that someone who consumed the tainted peanut butter today and becomes ill or dies, may not be identified as a victim for three more weeks.

Here is a link to more information from CDC.

January 18, 2009

Don’t eat peanut butter unless you make it yourself.

Seattle lawyer Bill Marler, the guru of the nation’s food safety investigators, is spitting mad about the way the Food and Drug Administration failed to take any definitive action when the first case of peanut-butter spawned salmonella surfaced in Minnesota in September.

“What in the hell are they thinking?” Marler told me today. “The FDA knew there was a problem on Labor Day and they wait for inaugural day to do anything.”

Marler says he just returned from Minnesota where the nationwide outbreak of 500 or so cases of illness and at least six deaths were first reported by Minnesota’s top notch health detectives.

I get real-time alerts and bulletins from the FDA and USDA whenever some food product is recognized as being dangerous or recalled. If you look at my Blackberry tonight, the streaming messages make it appear like a war has been declared by the federal food safety forces.

But, please don’t think for a moment that the FDA has actually ordered a recall of all products made from this peanut butter. Or anything else that might actually prevent new poisonings. Not so.

But voluntary recalls are streaming in from coast-to-coast.

Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc. announced it’s recalling all Wal-Mart Bakery brands of PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES, PEANUT BUTTER NO-BAKE COOKIES and PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE NO-BAKE COOKIES.

Food Lion cookie removed its Bake Shop peanut butter cookies from the shelves.

McKee Foods Corporation recalled two varieties of Little Debbie peanut butter sandwich crackers, which are sold in grocery and convenience stores throughout the country.

Perry’s Ice Cream Company recalled about 20 of its Select Peanut Butter Ice Cream products sold under the Perry’s, Surfine and Wegman’s brands.

Hy-Vee Inc. recalled almost a dozen products made in its bakery departments, including cookies containing Reese’s Pieces

What has angered Marler and others concerned about food safety is that the FDA knew weeks ago that Peanut Corp. of America in Blakely, Ga., � one of the nation’s largest producers of peanut butter and peanut cream � was the source of salmonella found in five-pound jars. FDA said the product was sold only to institutional clients � mass feeders like the military, nursing homes, jails and the like.

When I questioned an FDA investigator last week about why his agency wasn’t forcing the manufacturer to identify all its clients, he said the FDA prefers to use voluntary recalls and that’s just the way it is.

Later in the week, I told an FDA spokesperson that I had learned that the Georgia plant was shipping out peanut products in huge quantities, sometimes tanker-car loads. I asked if that wasn’t an indication that the potentially tainted peanut butter was likely to be used in other products being manufactured for sale.

The spokesperson said “Gee. I just don’t know.”

Perhaps that’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to throw away recalled items in a manner that prevents others from eating them, and, of equal importance, not to eat other peanut-butter containing products such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream until “more is know about the scope of the contamination.”

The FDA said tonight that the investigation is “very active and dynamic.”

And, no, I don’t know what that means, but I do know that CDC says the number of cases of salmonella in Washington State is now 13.

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