6 Colorado salmonella cases traced to Texas plant
DENVER ” More people in Colorado have been sickened by tainted peanut butter.
The Oregonian newspaper in Portland reports that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has linked six new cases to a plant in Plainview, Texas. The Colorado victims were between the ages of 2 and 60. One had to be hospitalized, the newspaper reported.
The peanut butter came from Lakewood-based Vitamin Cottage. The natural foods chain recalled its Vitamin Cottage Fresh-Ground Peanut butter last week.
Officials with the state Department of Public Health and Environment or Vitamin Cottage could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday evening.
In a statement last week, though, Vitamin Cottage officials said they’d been notified by Colorado authorities that three people had salmonella after eating the peanut butter in late December or early January. Vitamin Cottage has 25 stores in Colorado, plus stores in Texas, New Mexico and Utah.
The peanut butter came from a plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America. Authorities say that plant had operated since 2005 without an inspection.
A Texas health official said Saturday he knew Colorado officials were exploring the possibility of salmonella cases being linked to the Plainview plant.
“It’s certainly not a surprise to us,” said Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
On Thursday, Texas health authorities ordered the recall of all peanut-related ingredients ever shipped from the plant. Texas officials found dead rodents and feces, and preliminary tests by a private lab indicated salmonella was present.
Also last week, a Denver ice cream maker recalled two kinds of ice cream that contained peanut butter from the plant. No sicknesses were reported from the ice cream from Liks Ice Cream Parlor Inc.
The salmonella outbreak has sickened some 600 people in 43 states and is being linked to nine deaths. More than 1,900 products have been recalled, and Peanut Corp. of America is under FBI investigation and filed for bankruptcy Friday. Leading brands of jarred peanut butter are not affected.
The Oregonian newspaper cited Alicia Cronquist, epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, on the Colorado sicknesses.
Cronquist told the newspaper that 16 Coloradans total have been sickened by tainted peanut butter, six of them linked to peanut butter from Vitamin Cottage and the Texas plant.
Cronquist said Colorado authorities at first who thought a Georgia plant was the source of the Vitamin Cottage sicknesses. She said they discovered the Texas connection when a boy with a tree nut allergy became sick.
“His parents were very careful about what kind of nuts he ate,” Cronquist said.
On the Net:
Vitamin Cottage: http://www.vitamincottage.com
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us
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