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Salmonella Prompts Peanut Butter Recall, What Is Your Risk?

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By David Liu, PHD

Monday Oct 1, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Quite a few recalls for peanut butter and peanut butter containing products have been issued over the last couple of weeks, due to possible salmonella contamination.  The food companies can't take any chances and by all means they want to eliminate any potential health risk (and law suites as well).

So how risky it is for you to get infected with salmonella?  Although peanut butter recalls may have given consumers an impression that salmonella is highly risky or otherwise why should the companies of concern bother to issue a recall, which can cause a huge loss financially?.  The fact is, salmonella could not do too much to hurt healthy people with a healthy immunity.

People infected with salmonella usually experience fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after eating a tainted food or beverage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The foodborne illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without receiving any antibiotic treatment.  However, the diarrhea can be severe and patients may be better off going to see their doctors.  But the death risk is extremely lower and you may be more likely to die from a traffic accident on the road to see your doctor.  So this illness should cause no big concern.   After all, occasionally getting a fever may be good for your health.

However, at risk are people who do not have a sufficient immune defense capability against Salmonella or any other infection (even influenza virus can pose a risk in this case) like young children, frail or elderly people, people with chronic diseases that compromise their immunity, HIV/AIDS patients who lose their immunity to the virus, and cancer patients who have compromised immunity because of cancer and cancer treatment, and people having received organ transplantation because they need to take anti-immunity drugs.

In people with medical conditions and young or elderly people, Salmonella can cause some nasty medical conditions.   So if you happen to have one or two medical conditions that compromise your immune system, you may be better watching what you eat.   Nost just peanut butter or foods with peanut butter.   In these people, Salmonella can get into the bloodstream and produce more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis, and arthritis.

In any case, to most people, this salmonella bug does not pose any life-threatening risk.  However, if you feel sick, regardless of what causes it, you may want to seek medical attention.  And if you bought any recalled peanut butter or peanut butter containing food products, make sure to return them to the point of purchase and get your money back.

But don't worry about Salmonella contamination.  Worry causes stress, which further causes lots of mental and physical conditions including cancer and heart disease.


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