Phnom Penh’s Lucky Market on Wednesday pulled from its shelves jars of a potentially contaminated peanut butter that has been held partly responsible for more than 400 people in the US falling ill and over 70 being hospitalized.
Peter Pan peanut butter is manufactured by US food giant ConAgra Foods. On Feb 14 the US Food and Drug Administration warned people in a statement that, “All products containing Peter Pan brand peanut butter…bearing a product code that begins ‘2111’ are potentially contaminated” with Salmonella Tennessee. ConAgra Foods agreed to initiate a voluntary product recall the same day and destroy all tainted product, according to the FDA. The warning applied to peanut butter bought since May 2006.
Dozens of jars of Peter Pan with 2111 codes were for sale at Lucky early this week. However, they have since been taken away, Lucky Market Marketing Manager Patty Heng said Wednesday.
“We did not know the product was on recall in the US,” she said. “If we had known earlier, we would not have sold this product.”
Lucky received a shipment of Peter Pan peanut butter in April 2006 and another one around Feb 9 this year, Patty Heng said.
Both arrived before the recall was publicized in the US.
The jars were returned to Lucky’s warehouse and will be thrown away, she said.
Salmonella Tennessee is a bacterium that can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
As of March 7, 425 people in the US were believed infected with Salmonella from the tainted peanut butter, according to the FDA.
Klaouk Chuon, deputy director of the state agency CamControl monitoring food safety in Cambodia, said he had not heard about the ConAgra recall but would look into it.
A spokeswoman for the private health clinic SOS who declined to give her name said SOS was aware of the recall and had sent out a global alert to all its members. “We are aware of the situation and are monitoring it,” she said.
US’s FDA press officer Mike Herndon wrote in an e-mail message that the FDA can go to court to seize a product if it deems a company negligent. “This is not the case with ConAgra,” he said, adding that the company has tried to reach out to its foreign distributors.
ConAgra officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment.