COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio distributor says it has recalled two brands of its peanut butter after an open container tested positive for salmonella bacteria.
Federal health officials said the company's peanut butter had not been conclusively linked to a national salmonella outbreak.
King Nut Companies said in a statement that it asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter under its King Nut and Parnell's Pride brands with a lot code that begins with the numeral "8."
The peanut butter was distributed only through food service providers in Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida. It was not sold directly to consumers.
Preliminary laboratory testing found salmonella bacteria in a 5-pound container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday.
The Minnesota tests had not linked it to the type of salmonella in the outbreak that has sickened almost 400 people in 42 states, but the department said additional results are expected early next week.
The federal Food and Drug Administration also is analyzing samples of peanut butter from King Nut and Peanut Corporation, spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said Sunday. The agency has not conclusively linked the peanut butter to the strain of salmonella that has sickened people in the outbreak, she said.
King Nut's president, Martin Kanan, said Sunday that the recall involved approximately 1,000 cases of peanut butter. He said he did not know the names of the company's customers, but he planned to release more details Monday.
"We don't know exactly where they sell to," Kanan said. "They could sell cross-state, too."
"We just want everybody to know that safety is our highest priority," Kanan said. "We just wanted to recall it right away."
King Nut, based in Solon, Ohio, said it canceled all orders with the manufacturer of its two peanut butter brands, Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Va.
Peanut Corporation said in a statement posted on its Web site that it is working with federal food and health officials to determine whether its products are connected to the national outbreak. PCA does not sell its products at grocery stores or directly to the public.
The Lynchburg company said the tainted container was found in the kitchen of a nursing facility, leaving it open to the possibility of cross-contamination from another source. The company did not say where the nursing facility was located or when the contaminated product was discovered.
Peanut Corporation's owner and president, Stewart Parnell, declined to comment further on Sunday until the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention complete their investigation.
CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said Sunday that she had no new information on the case and did not know when additional test results would be available.
The CDC said Friday that 399 cases had been confirmed nationally, with about one in five of victims hospitalized. California has reported the most cases, with 55, followed by Ohio with 53. All the illnesses began between Sept. 3 and Dec. 29, but most of the people grew sick after Oct. 1.
The CDC has not confirmed any deaths associated with the outbreak.
The report of peanut butter contamination comes almost two years after ConAgra recalled its Peter Pan brand peanut butter, which was eventually linked to at least 625 salmonella cases in 47 states.
CDC officials say the bacteria in the current outbreak has been genetically fingerprinted as the Typhimurium type, which is among the most common sources of salmonella food poisoning.