Ice cream hit in salmonella scare

Two ice cream products are the latest items to be pulled from shelves in Cayman in an ongoing peanut-related salmonella outbreak.

Supermarkets in Cayman on Friday pulled tubs of Blue Bunny reduced fat Bunny Tracks ice cream and Flavorite Sundae Cones after the manufacturers initiated voluntary recalls.

The Blue Bunny recall relates to all 1.75qt containers with ‘Best Used By’ dates prior to January 29, 2010, with the UPC number 70640-03434. The recall of Flavorite Sundae Cones relates to all packets with the UPC number 41130-03778.

In a statement to media, Foster’s Food Fair said they will not allow the products to return to any of their stores until they have a guarantee of their safety. Customers that had purchases the ice-cream were asked to return the items to the store for a full refund.

The Department of Environmental Health said last week over 600 pounds of products have been pulled from shelves in Cayman as part of the peanut related salmonella outbreak.

More than 70 manufacturers that used contaminated peanut ingredients from a peanut plant in Georgia, USA, have become caught up in the outbreak, which has affected a wide range of items including cookies, crackers, candy, pet food, sauces and ice cream.

Over 400 products have now been recalled as part of the salmonella outbreak, which has been linked to at least eight deaths and over 500 sicknesses in the USA.

The US Food and Drug Administration have set up a searchable database of affected products, which the DEH is urging all consumers in Cayman to check before consuming products with peanut ingredients.

FDA investigators said last week the company at the centre of the outbreak, Peanut Corp. of America, had found salmonella a dozen times in internal testing over the past two years but did nothing.

On Friday it emerged that a shipment of peanuts from the same company was found to be contaminated and was returned to the USA in mid-December – weeks before the earliest signs of a national salmonella outbreak.

The chopped peanuts were prevented by the FDA from being allowed back into the United States because the peanuts contained an unspecified ‘filthy, putrid or decomposed substance, or is otherwise unfit for food,’ according to an FDA report of the incident.

The revelation comes after FDA last week revealed roaches, mould, and signs of a leaking roof were among the numerous problems investigators found at PCA’s Georgia plant in recent weeks.

The head of the House appropriations panel that oversees FDA funding, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, called the discovery of the bad shipment in September ‘a perfect example of the patchwork system.’

‘Why was it able to get exported in the first place?’ said Ms DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut. ‘That also begs the question, how many contaminated products are getting through our borders every single day? If the FDA discovered that there was an issue with this product inspection, why didn’t they follow up on it? Why didn’t they take a closer look at this facility?’

Ms DeLauro said she wants the Justice Department to investigate the salmonella outbreak, and also is pressing for major changes in food safety oversight.

FYI: Salmonella is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhoea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e. infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.