A salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 400 people in 43 states may have come from a plant in Blakely, Georgia.
Federal investigators are at the plant, looking for any possible link.
The recent salmonella outbreak has hit close to home for peanut butter manufacturer American Peanut Corporation.
Health officials say so far five people from five different counties in Georgia have been diagnosed as having contracted this particular strain of bacteria.
Peanut butter production at the American Peanut Corporation is on hold for now. That's after an open container of their peanut butter at a nursing facility in Minnesota where the salmonella outbreak occurred tested positive for salmonella. Company officials tell me that the DNA print from that container of peanut butter links it to the same salmonella strain that has recently sickened hundreds of people. The owner, Stewart Parnell, declined to go on camera, but says investigators from the FDA and the CDC have taken over 100 samples from the company for testing. They also say that investigators have taken sample swabs from the floor and machinery in the plant.
While investigators comb through the plant looking for possible clues, health officials say it's very unusual to find salmonella in peanut butter.
Alida Ward of the Early County Health Department says, “It is rare that you find it with peanuts and peanut products, and it is more associated with animal proteins and bird products.”
Officials say it can take a person between one to three days to react after ingesting the food that is contaminated.
Ward says, “The individual will have stomach aches, stomach cramps diarrhea, gastroenteritis, for some individuals it could be bloody diarrhea or bloody stools and some people can resolve it without ever seeking care, many individuals will seek the care of a physician.”
Meanwhile, as the investigation continues, company officials are fully cooperating with investigators and are awaiting final test results.
This peanut butter is distributed by king nut company and is only sold to food service providers and not to the general public.
Company officials say their working with investigators on a recall for the product.
Health officials say about 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported in the US each year.