The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella infections tied to Jif brand peanut butter sold at stores across the U.S.
Fourteen people had been sickened in 12 states as of May 21, including two people who required hospitalization. Five people reported eating peanut butter before becoming sick, according to the CDC, and four of the five specified eating Jif brand peanut butter. The cases were reported between Feb. 17 and May 1, but the CDC notes that it usually takes two to four weeks to link an illness to an outbreak, so there could be additional recent cases that have yet to be identified. The median age of those sickened is 56.
The 12 states where salmonella infections tied to peanut butter have been reported are:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
The CDC warns, however, that the outbreak may not be limited to these states.
How to identify recalled Jif peanut butter
J.M. Smucker Co. issued a voluntary recall on May 20 of dozens of Jif brand peanut butter products due to potential salmonella contamination. The recall encompasses a variety of sizes and types of peanut butter, including creamy, crunchy, natural and reduced fat.
Recalled Jif peanut butter, distributed to retail stores and other outlets nationwide, can be identified in two ways: by UPC number and by lot code. The UPC number is part of the barcode that appears on packaging. Each product has a unique UPC number. J.M. Smucker Co. provided a list of UPC numbers, along with descriptions, for 49 recalled products in its recall notice. See the list of recalled UPC numbers here.
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Lot codes appear alongside the “best if used by” date on packaging. The recall includes lot codes between 1274425 and 2140425. The numerals “425” in the lot codes indicate the Jif peanut butter was produced at a J.M. Smucker Co. facility in Lexington, Kentucky, which has been identified as the likely source of the salmonella outbreak. Lot codes outside this range are not included in this recall.
The CDC and FDA recommend throwing away recalled Jif products and sanitizing any surfaces and utensils that may have come into contact with the peanut butter. Consumers with questions or who would like to report an illness can call J.M. Smucker Co. at 800-828-9980, Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.
The FDA warns that since peanut butter has a shelf life of two years, it’s important to check opened and unopened Jif containers that may not have been purchased recently.
Signs of a salmonella infection
Salmonellosis is the name for an infection caused by salmonella bacteria. The CDC estimates that in the U.S. each year there are about 1.35 million salmonella-related infections, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths. Food is the primary source of most of these illnesses. Typical symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.
The CDC recommends calling a health care provider if you have one or more of these symptoms after eating recalled peanut butter:
- Diarrhea and a fever above 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than three days
- Bloody diarrhea
- Vomiting that prevents liquids from being kept down
- Signs of dehydration (infrequent urination, dry mouth, dizziness)
Most people recover from a salmonella infection on their own without treatment within seven days. However, adults 65 and older, children under 5 and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for a severe salmonella infection. Severe infection can require hospitalization, antibiotics and other treatments.
Other Jif-Related Recalls
Several companies have recalled products made with peanut butter that may be contaminated with salmonella. These are the Jif-related recalls as of May 25, according to FoodSafety.gov:
Eleven store-prepared items including pies, cupcakes and prepared snack/meal packs sold at the following stores: Albertsons, Safeway, Lucky, Haggen, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, Tom Thumb, United, Amigos, Market Street, Albertsons Market, Andronico’s Community Markets, Vons, Pak ’N Save, Shaw’s, Star Market, Randalls, Jewel-Osco, ACME, King’s and Balducci’s.
Select lots of Milk and Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Crackers, Peanut Butter Meltaways, Peanut Butter Eggs and Fudge sold locally through the Wilbur Chocolate Retail Store in Lititz, Pennsylvania, and online at Wilburbuds.com.
Products included in the recall are Peanut Butter Spread, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Graham Peanut Butter Sandwich, Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwich, Oversized Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Fudge Sampler, Peanut Butter Fudge, Buckeye Fudge, Oversized Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Oversized Peanut Butter Pretzel Cluster, Peanut Butter Truffle, Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Corn, Select Gift Boxes: 4-ounce Deluxe Assortment, 8-ounce Deluxe Assortment, 16-ounce Deluxe Assortment, 32-ounce Deluxe Assortment, 8-ounce Assorted Creams, 16-ounce Assorted Creams.
Select fresh-cut fruit snack trays and fruit snack cups sold under Snack Fresh, Snack Sensations, Giant, Wegmans and Market32 brands.
Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable products sold to retailers nationwide: Del Monte Apples with Peanut Butter (5 ounce), Peanut Butter Snack Pack (4.25 ounce), Apples and Peanut Butter (6 ounce and 5.5 ounce), and Sandwich with Peanut Butter Cup.
Fudge made with Jif Peanut Butter, packaged in 8-ounce plastic containers and 16-ounce plastic trays (also sold under Walmart brand name).
Garden Cut products containing 0.75-ounce Jif Peanut Butter Cup (including apple wedges and celery bites).
Celery Peanut Butter Cup G&G and Apple Peanut Butter Cup G&G containing the Jif Creamy Peanut Butter To Go 1.5-ounce cups.
Fresh Seasons Power Packs in 6.3-ounce packages.
Two products: Wawa Apple & Peanut Butter Dipper 4.9 ounce; Jif Creamy Peanut Butter 16 ounce.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include new information.