Concerned about all the news you’ve been hearing about the peanut butter recall? Over the past week, it seems every morning on the news I hear about more manufacturers recalling their products that contain peanut butter.

First of all, the peanut butter that you use to make sandwiches – that is, the jars of peanut butter you buy at the grocery store – are not part of this recall.  So wholesome eaters don’t need to worry. But if you eat snack foods made with peanut butter, such as crackers and cookies, read on. The contamination was found in the peanut paste used to make many of these products.

Here's what you need to know.


Salmonella is actually a group of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of people or animals to other people or other animals. There are many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common in the United States. Salmonella germs have been known to cause illness for over 100 years. They were discovered by an American scientist named Salmon, for whom they are named. (source:
The type of Salmonella that is causing the current problems is Salmonella Typhimurium. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at the most risk of being effected by the strain, although it can cause diarrhea and intestinal discomfort in anyone.

The peanut butter

On Jan. 12, the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health announced that they had confirmed King Nut brand creamy peanut butter was the cause of the strains of bacteria associated with 30 illnesses in Minnesota and nearly 400 illnesses around the country. This peanut butter is not sold in retail stores to consumers so it is not expected to have affected the regular jars of peanut butter that can be bought off the shelf.

However, it is sold to companies that manufacture products with peanut butter such as cookies, cereals, ice cream and the like, and many manufacturers are voluntarily recalling their products as a precaution. Keebler, Austin and Little Debbie are just a few of the brands with recalled products.

The FDA has a list that is updated as new products are being recalled. I recommend you visit it to find out if any products you have bought have been recalled.

What you should do

Here is what the CDC recommends that you should do if you have recalled products (updated on 1/22):

  •   Do not eat products that have been recalled and throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them.  These products include Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers and King Nut brand peanut butter produced since July 1, 2008. (FDA's web site has recalled lot numbers). 
  •  Postpone eating other peanut butter containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) until more information becomes available about which brands may be affected.
  •  Use FDA’s online database to check if foods you’re concerned about are on the recall list.
  •  Call the consumer hotline phone number that may be on any product packaging you have to get information directly from the product manufacturer.
  •  Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter are advised to consult their health care providers.
The CDC has a very informative Q&A page that has more information on Salmonella.

Image: robertdx

updated on 1/22/08 to reflect more up to date information

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

The 411 on the peanut butter recall
The basic facts on the current peanut butter recalls and links to where you can get in-depth info.