The Food and Drug Administration reports that its inspectors have found salmonella samples at ConAgra's Georgia plant and, as the investigation of salmonella-tainted peanut butter widens, the recall has spread to ice cream manufacturers and a wholesale retailer of a peanut butter dessert topping.

Inspectors found salmonella samples at ConAgra's Sylvester, Georgia, plant, where the recalled Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter was made, FDA said. At the same time, the agency said peanut butter from the contaminated plant was spread to at least one other plant, located in Tennessee.

It was at the Humboldt, Tenn., plant that peanut butter was processed for ice cream and dessert toppings.

The FDA says the fact that its inspectors found Salmonella in the plant environment further suggests that the contamination likely took place prior to the product reaching consumers.

Last week, tests by several states identified Salmonella in many open jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter recovered from consumers. In these instances, the Salmonella found in the plant and in the open jars matched the outbreak strain recovered from consumers who became ill.

The following products were used by the affected businesses until Feb. 16, 2007 when the products were recalled:
- Sonic Brand Ready-To-Use Peanut Butter Topping in 6 lb. 10.5 oz cans.
- Carvel Peanut Butter Topping in 6 lb. 10 oz. cans.
The following Carvel products, purchased before Feb. 16, 2007 can be returned to a Carvel outlet for a refund:
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter Treasure
- Peanut Butter & Jelly
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae Dasher
- Any other customized products containing the Peanut Butter Topping, including peanut butter flavored ice cream in ice cream cakes
- J. Hungerford Smith Peanut Butter Dessert Topping in 6 lb. 10 oz. cans. The topping is used by retail outlets and restaurants nationwide but is not available for direct purchase by the public, the FDA said.
Carvel's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae Dasher is not being recalled because of the peanut butter found in the Reese's Cups, but rather, because of the peanut butter topping applied to the sundae, Carvel spokeswoman Karen Gailey said.

ConsumerAffairs.Com has not received any related complaints on the above products.

What To Do

Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter should consult a physician if they do not get better in a few days. If the illness affects small children, the elderly, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems, a doctor should be consulted promptly.

The FDA and other agencies have been advising consumers who have Peter Pan peanut butter or Great Value peanut butter with a product code beginning with 2111 to discard the jar and keep the lid.

However, attorneys advise that, if consumers were seriously harmed by their illness, they should seal the jar in a plastic bag and store it out of the reach of children or others in the household, so that it is available as evidence.

Although a few lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed, one experienced consumer attorney who asked not to be identified expressed doubt such actions would be successful.

"The vast majority of suits will be individual actions. A class suit would be difficult to certify," he said.

ConAgra has publicly offered to repay the money consumers spent on the peanut butter and any attempt to recover medical costs and wages lost to illness would require the filing of an individual personal injury suit. Such suits are usually not economically feasible unless consumers have suffered serious injury or death.

Consumers could also file in Small Claims Court if they have well-documented expenses and a firm diagnosis. Consumers should note that they cannot claim punitive damages for pain and suffering in most small claims cases.


Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.