Peanut butter products were in a sticky mess after a salmonella outbreak, which first occurred in early September. Since then, there have been more than 500 salmonella cases in 43 states. But students at the University of Miami have no reason to fear.
“The University and Chartwells have been working very closely throughout this and we have been proactively ensuring that our students’ health and safety is number one,” said Mel Tenen, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services.
As an early precaution, all products containing peanut butter were pulled from Jamba Juice, the UC and University Village convenience stores, the Wellness Center and the dining halls.
Despite a number of products being taken off the shelves of the convenience stores, the resident dining halls were not even open to students when the recall was made.
There are no reported cases of anyone at the university becoming ill, and, in fact, Florida is one of seven states that have no reported cases at all. California has reported the highest case count with 55, followed by Ohio with 53, Massachusetts with 39, Minnesota with 30 and Michigan with 20.
“This was a more extensive recall than others we’ve had in the past because there are so many items that contain peanut paste,” said Leland Rapport, the resident district manager of Chartwells. “It’s been a lengthy process but many of the products recalled have already been released.”
There are still a handful of products, however, that students won’t find just yet, such as Keebler peanut butter-containing foods. But many other products that were first pulled have been reintroduced over the past several weeks.
Salmonella infections can be treated with antibiotics, though some strains are resistant to these drugs, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within a few days of infection. The illness can last up to a week.
“The whole process has gone very smoothly and the safety of the university community has been paramount,” Tenen said. “This wasn’t a matter we’ve taken lightly.”
According to the CDC Web site, they cannot say the outbreak will be over, though the numbers of new cases have declined over the last two weeks and the outbreak appears to have reached its peak in December and is now in decline.
“The university was well aware of this since the beginning and we will always be in full compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations,” Tenen said.
For the latest information on the outbreak including number of illnesses and a list of states reporting illnesses, visit http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/.