ConAgra says Moisture in Peanut Butter Plant Spread Salmonella

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - ConAgra Foods said that moisture from a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler in its Georgia peanut butter plant last August allowed salmonella bacteria to infect its finished product and later sicken more than 400 people nationwide.

The Omaha-based company released details of its nearly two-month-long investigation and explained what its plans to ensure that Peter Pan peanut butter is safe when it returns to stores in mid-July.

ConAgra spokeswoman Stephanie Childs said the company traced the
salmonella outbreak to three incidents in its Sylvester, plant last August.

She said the plant was cleaned thoroughly after the roof leak and sprinkler incidents, but somehow the salmonella remained and came in contact with peanut butter before it was packaged.

ConAgra recalled all its peanut butter in February after federal health officials linked it to cases of salmonella infection. At least 425 people in 44 states, including 8 in Alabama, were sickened, and numerous lawsuits have been filed against the company.

The recall covered all Peter Pan peanut butter and all Great Value peanut butter made at the Sylvester plant since October 2004. That plant is ConAgra's only peanut butter plant.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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