Friday, January 23, 2009

Peanut Butter: Delicious and Instructive

To a close first approximation, peanut butter makes everything taste better -- chocolate, jelly, ice cream, celery, bread, breakfast cereal, diet cola, insects, steak, fish sticks, sugar-free Kool Aid powder straight from the packet, bare spoons, you name it -- but salmonella? This is too much to ask of any fatty spread:

Federal officials are urging consumers to put off eating foods that contain peanut butter until assurances are made that the foods do not contain products manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America, some of which were found to contain salmonella.

Food and Drug Administration officials said Saturday that peanut butter and peanut paste made from ground roasted peanuts, manufactured in Peanut Corp.'s Blakely, Georgia, plant were found to contain the bacteria, although a direct link to the strain that has now sickened 474 people in 43 states has not been found.
This is alarming for those of us who favor adding peanut butter to whatever we happen to be putting in our mouths. And hilariously enough, it turns out there's no sure way to track down peanut ingredients that originate with the cartoonishly-named* Peanut Corporation of America:
"The majority of products [like cookies, crackers, ice cream] are manufactured with products that don't come from PCA," said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's [peanut butter crisis czar] ... until people can be sure that the peanut cookies or crackers they have do not contain product from Peanut Corp., the FDA is asking consumers to hold off on eating them.
As non-reassuring as all this may be, it does not change the fact, as reported earlier, that every jar of peanut butter that does not open up to reveal newly-evolved forms of life proves that evolutionary science is bunk, that Jesus is the king of kings, that Sarah Palin should be vice president, and that god doesn't heal amputees, stop hurricanes, or cleanse the salmonella from the peanut butter supplies because he doesn't bloody feel like it. (Now for the last time, get off his lawn!)

* The name "Peanut Corporation of America" is trying too hard. Obviously it is a front for something more sinister. But for what?


Mike said...

It continues to be worth noting that as far as anyone knows the jars of peanut butter you and I buy are safe. Thus I continue to bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work, my daughter still has a peanut butter and banana sandwich regularly, and thus far no harm has come to us.

Dale said...

Mike, that's a point well worth clarifying. Thanks.

Chubbs said...

These are the stories I love, not because I like to see people fret about the possibility of becoming ill from eating peanut butter, but because it's a risk I know I'll never take; much in the same way the very XY monster truckin' Oklaho-man rails against the sins of homosexuality he knows he'll never be associated with. I've never had peanut butter (intentionally, anyway) and don't plan to. Being allergic to peanuts means I'll never know the deliciousness of chocolate and peanut butter, but neither will I know the misery of salmonella and peanut butter. Then again, even a taste of non-salmonella-laced peanut butter would have a good chance of killing me, so I don't think I come out ahead either way. Okay. I feel your pain.

Dale said...

Chubbs, I feel a duty to point out that while your allergy prevents you from the many charms of peanut butter, there are plenty of other ways of getting salmonella. Take heart!