Salmonella Contamination in Ludy’s Peanut Butter

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You’ve heard it in the news. My favorite local peanut butter is contaminated with Salmonella. Samuya Food Corp., manufacturer of Ludy’s Peanut Butter Sweet and Creamy and Ludy’s Peanut Butter Spread pulled out their products from the shelves to quell public fear that its products are tainted with salmonella.

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I wonder if Samuya followed the usual quality control procedures to check levels of bacteria count. See, I am a food technologist and it is SOP to check for bacteria from raw materials, to tables and equipment in the working areas. After college graduation, my first job was that of Quality Control Inspector of Armour Foods, then a competitor of Purefoods. It wasn’t a glamorous job. Dressed in white laboratory gown, a white cap and black boots, it was my duty to get swabs at random places from the working area at all stages of production to check the level of bacterial count, usually Escherichia Coli. The cooking temperature of a processed food is usually based on the bacteria that is prevalent in the food.

Salmonella detection is not easy. Even in the USA, conventional lab methods can now take as long as nine days to identify the most common of food bugs.

One of the reasons it can take so long to identify salmonella is that samples submitted to the lab may not have enough of the bacteria. More bacteria have to be cultured in a nutrient-rich broth to make an identification.

Of course you know that peanuts grow underground and salmonella is present in the dirt, but generally any bacteria are killed when raw peanuts are roasted.

When making peanut butter, the nuts are again heated , above the salmonella-killing temperature of 165 degrees — as they are ground into a paste and mixed with other ingredients before being squirted into jars and quickly sealed.

Experts speculate that salmonella would be most likely to contaminate peanut butter as it cooled and placed in jars. At most plants, those steps take just minutes. Samuya Food Corp may have done shortcuts in their plant sanitary practices. I believe the source of contamination lies in the mixing or filling machine after roasted peanuts are done. These machines usually follow cleaning schedule which I hoped Samuya enforced faithfully.

The thing is, this bacteria is practically everywhere. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea, and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with pets or pet feces. Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, are particularly likely to harbor Salmonella. Many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their feces.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA doesn’t believe the salmonella is growing in the peanut butter (there’s probably not enough available water) but that nothing in the processing is killing it either. Now once, peanut butter enters the body, the bacteria can start growing again in the intestine and that’s when it causes infection. Usually food poisoning infections from this kind of salmonella requires very substantial inocula, implying there is a lot of the organism already in the peanut butter. CDC doesn’t consider peanut butter as a typical vehicle for salmonella growth so this peanut butter contamination is quite puzzling. Either the peanuts must have been contaminated already at the source or the Samuya Food Corporation has an unsanitary plant conditions.

Thorough cooking kills Salmonella but most eat peanut butter as sandwich spread unlike kare-kare, where most likely the Salmonella gets killed if cooked at rolling boil.

It is commendable that our local Food and Drug Administration took this initiative but there is a lot of work to be done from checking the plant conditions to the sanitary practices of their staff. What about those homemade peanut butter sold in markets?

In the meantime, just don’t use peanut butter for spreads, unless you cook at the Salmonella-killing temperature of 165 degrees. At 165 degrees (or 74 Celsius), salmonella, campylobacter and avian flu virus get destroyed in cooked poultry.

I still use peanut butter for my sandwich but it is not in the list of banned peanut butter products.

What about you? Is it time to process our own peanut butter to ensure it is processed in sanitary conditions?

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

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  • Which reminds me, I should stop eating raw eggs for breakfast.

    BrianBs last blog post..First-Gen iPod Nano Owners on $25 Settlement

    • you are probably immuned to low levels of salmonella. Just make sure you cook them at 165 degrees F.

      • They won’t be raw eggs anymore, would they? Yep, I agree, I’m probably immune to more than average levels. When I was little, I used to play in the swampy lot, catch salamanders, etc. Then the doves I used to collect. We also had poultry in high school. Ah, the blessings of provincial living.

        BrianBs last blog post..First-Gen iPod Nano Owners on $25 Settlement

  • bethvlim

    this is sad news… peanut butter is a good source of protein which is appealing to kids. now with this news, i stopped serving it.

  • this is sad news… peanut butter is a good source of protein very appealing to kids.

    bethvlims last blog post..The Kind Jap

  • Last year it’s milk, few weeks ago pork… now peanut butter, my favorite. Makes me want to consider organic food (reminds me my backyard garden needs tending).

    Carl Lozanos last blog post..Blaring Tony Blair

    • oh I don’t have a backyard enough to grow organic foods. Maybe it is about time we make our own preserves or processed foods.

  • got the recipe. making our own peanut butter is a good bonding moment for me and the kids too. tnx much.

    bethvlims last blog post..The Kind Jap

    • enjoy the bonding moment

  • dwight

    Inspecting manufacturer’s should be done that twice or thrice in a year to prevent from spreading SALMONELLA, what is the used of having a BFAD here in the Philippines? if they not doing their job well. How come all this year, you will come up in the news saying that we are having a SALMONELLA outbreak that comes in the Peanut Butter.

    • random inspection would be ideal.

  • I was never a fan of peanut butters although I’ve heard and seen on TV what salmonella can do to you. Even if Ludy’s Peanut Butter didn’t have salmonella contamination, I still wouldn’t buy it. I mean, look at that processor they have. It seems rusty and very discouraging to buy from them. But as it is in the Philippines, cost cutting sacrifices quality assurance.. or at least it seems so.

  • fino

    I’ m sorry to say this DoH and BFAD killed the peanut butter industry in the Philippines for the sake of political gains. I don’t state this comment not because i m related or kin of Samuya manufacturers. Thank you and GOD BLESS!

  • Just wanted to let you know that we are at the final stage of the passage of the BFAD strengthening bill. I sponsored this some time ago and it is now in bicam where the house and senate versions are being reconciled. This bill, when it becomes law is intended to upgrade BFAD’s capabilities (equipment, personnel etc) so it can do a better job in ensuring the quality of our medicine, food, cosmetics and medical devices.
    This wont solve our problems but its a step in the right direction towards the improvement of healthcare in our country.

    • That’s indeed good news Pia. Am looking forward to the passage of the bill.

  • someone

    A little bird told me that the Salmonella strain found in the contaminated peanut butter did not match anything from the Samuya factory. Suspicious.

  • someone

    I heard that the Salmonella strain found in the contaminated batches of peanut butter did not match with anything from the Samuya factory. Odd.

  • Pam

    Is it safe to eat boiled peanuts? 🙂

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