More Pet Foods Added to Salmonella Recall
Dog treats pulled from shelves on fears of contamination

By Lisa Wade McCormick

Add more pet treats to what seems like a never-ending list of products recalled in the wake of this year's salmonella outbreak, which has sickened more than 600 people nationwide and may be linked to the deaths of nine others.

The company at the heart of this outbreak — the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) — recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. That action came within days after the company's president, Stewart Parnell, refused to answer questions about the salmonella outbreak from the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee.

The bankruptcy action also came on the heels of state and federal inspections of the company's facilities in Georgia and Texas, which revealed PCA shipped products it knew had tested positive for salmonella.

The reports also revealed such unsanitary conditions at PCA's facilities as dead rodents, roaches, mold, and bird feathers and rodent excrement in a crawl space above the production area at one of the company's plants.

The ongoing recalls are fueled in part by Texas authorities' recent decision to immediately pull all products made at PCA's Plainview, Texas, plant since March 2005.

The latest products recalled in this outbreak are American Health Kennels baked dog treats. The action specifically covers the following items:

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Cookie Bars: Creamy Peanut Butter UPC 725999522004; PB & Carob Chips UPC 725999523001; Lucious Carob UPC 725999521007; 4pack Cookiebar Assortment UPC 725999538005; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Peanut Butter Crunch 12oz UPC 725999001103; 16oz UPC 725999161104; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc. Bark Bars Peanut Butter: 1.5oz Jumbo UPC 725999000168; 2.25 Pillow Pack UPC 725999333105; 2.5lb canister UPC 725999005064; 5lb bulk UPC 725999001257; 6oz Smiles UPC 725999530009; Giggles UPC 725999530009;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Christmas Stocking 6oz UPC 725999000175; Christmas Card Mailer UPC 725999513003; Birthday Mailer UPC 725999528006; "With Love" Hearts UPC 725999512944; Holiday Smiles UPC 725999222300;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., 100 Calorie 2oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999539101; 100 Calorie 14oz dispenser UPC 725999539200; Gravity Trial 2oz UPC 725999400166; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Minis UPC 72599953300; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Animal Snackers 3oz UPC 725999512098; 12oz UPC 725999512098; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Milk & Cookies UPC 725999333808; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Dog Ate My Homework Jumbo UPC 725999531006; 2oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999535004; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Naughty or Nice UPC 725999530092; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Carob & Peanut Butter, 2.5lb canister UPC 725999005071; 2.25oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999333402; 5lb bulk UPC 725999003251; Best Before: 11/09;

• American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Brownie Delight 12oz UPC 725999003107; 5lb bulk UPC 725999003251; Best Before: 11/09

American Kennel said it has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. "We are effecting this recall in the interest of public safety even though we know our product is safe," the company said in a written statement.

In recent months, more than 200 companies nationwide have pulled some 2,100 products off store shelves because they contain potentially tainted peanut butter or paste made by PCA. The recalled products include such items as crackers, cookies, cereal, energy bars, ice cream, and pet treats.

None of the national brands of peanut butter — including Skippy, Jif, and Peter Pan — are included in any recalls. The makers of those products continue to remind consumers their peanut butter is safe to eat.

Hundreds of food manufacturers, however, used PCA peanut butter and paste as ingredients in their products. Many continue to pull products off store shelves almost daily, making this one of the country's largest food-related recalls.

PCA remains the focus of a criminal investigation for allegedly shipping products it knew had tested positive for salmonella, including the strain linked to the current outbreak — Salmonella Typhimurium. The company also faces more than a dozen civil lawsuits.

Damaging evidence that surfaced in the investigation includes e-mails that indicate PCA's president Stewart Parnell ordered products he knew were tainted with salmonella to be shipped anyway.

Some of those potentially-tainted products made their way to poor school children and victims of recent disasters.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that salmonella can be transferred from pets to humans. They advise pet owners to thoroughly wash their hands before and after feeding treats to pets.

FDA officials say symptoms of salmonella poisoning in pets includes lethargy, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets may also have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, it can cause more severe illnesses, including arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Health officials say consumers should discard any products recalled in this salmonella outbreak.

The FDA now has a database that consumers can search to see if their favorite products are involved in any recalls.

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