Liow: All US peanut butter products to be tested

The STAR online

Sunday January 25, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: All peanut butter products from the United States will be held at entry points for testing before being released only after they are found to be safe for consumption.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the move to put the products under Level Five alert of the Food Safety Information System of Malaysia was due to several salmonella-linked deaths in the US.

“The importers have taken the contaminated products off the shelves,” he told reporters after handing out ang pows to Valley of Hope residents here yesterday.

As of Friday, 474 people had been reported to be infected by salmonella linked to peanut butter by public health authorities in 43 of the 50 US states, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

US authorities said seven people had died from a nationwide outbreak of salmonella associated with tainted peanut butter and paste sourced from the Peanut Corporation of America’s plant in Blakely, Georgia.

The CDC had identified the bacterial strain as Salmonella Typhimurium.

In a statement, the ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division said it was informed that the possibly contaminated dough had been exported to Malaysia for The Famous Amos Chip Cookie Corp (M) Sdn Bhd.

The company has recalled the dough from all three premises – KLCC, Sungai Wang and the KL International Airport.

Liow said the Government had “raised the alert to Level Five at all ports to ensure that the incoming batches were free from salmonella contamination”.

Asked if there were any other US products which were placed on Level Five alert, he replied:

“It’s very specific. We are focusing on one product – peanut butter.”

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