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Feb 11, 2009

BAHA investigates possible case of salmonella poisoning

Story PictureWe have reported on salmonella poisoning of peanut paste coming out of the Peanut Corporation of America’s Georgia plant that has now turned into a criminal case, since the owner was aware of the presence of the bacteria in batches of paste it distributed to customers. Eight deaths and six hundred reported cases of sickness in the US has so far made one Belizean wonder if she was sickened by salmonella poisoning. Dr. Michael Deshield, BAHA’s Director of Food Safety, investigated that case.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Salmonella poisoning of peanut paste coming out of the Peanut Corporation of America’s Georgia plant has turned into a criminal case, since the owner was aware of the presence of the bacteria in batches of peanut paste it distributed to its customers. Eight deaths and six hundred reported cases of sickness in the US so far made one Belizean wonder if she was sickened by salmonella poisoning. Dr. Michael Deshield, BAHA’s Director of Food Safety, investigated that case.

Dr. Michael Deshield, Director of Food Safety, BAHA
“There was one case where somebody had alerted us that they ate one of the products that they have noted was on the recall list. She got sick, basically, and she referred back to this thing that “I did eat something like that.” The stuff was already gone, the food was already gone but she had another of the same thing which we procured and we did some testing at the BAHA Lab but we have here. It was negative but it would be very hard to make that link to say specifically that she got sick from that because she ate a number of other things too. And then there were some other people that ate the same things and did not get sick. It’s very hard to pinpoint specifically it was that. If we had a positive of course we could make the link, especially what kind of salmonella it was. But we just recently got the test result and it was negative. So it was likely she may have gotten sick from something else. It’s just something that we are alerted to. If anybody has something there and we could do some testing we have to check it out.”

Dr. Deshield says that BAHA does testing on products, and they work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health which tests humans for salmonella. BAHA has to destroy the tainted goods to ensure that they are never consumed. Part of their job includes sensitizing the public to the possible health risks.

Dr. Michael Deshield
“It is difficult. We have over eighteen hundred different products and the US is having a difficult time with it. We try to keep updated with the recall list that we have. We actually just posted it on the BAHA website, you can do a search. So if you have a product that has peanut in it, you can actually do a search and find out if that product is on the recall list. Fortunately, we don’t import a lot of the products. There are few popular ones that we do import that was here and with the Ministry of Health and the bureau and our BAHA quarantine staff we gotten to a number of the main supermarkets and some of the Chinese outlets and we found a couple but not much. So thank goodness we don’t import a lot of that stuff because it would be a nightmare.”

Jose Sanchez
“The products that you take off the shelf what do you do with them?”

Dr. Michael Deshield
“They were destroyed. We have an incinerator and we burn them. We burn them. And the thing is, because there’s so many different things, what we advise consumers is for them to just keep updated as best they can too, you know.”

And keeping updated means going to the F.D.A. website or downloading a widget that BAHA has added to its website, which enables you to type in and search for a product you are using at home to see if it is on the recall list. And if the product you have is there, perhaps it would be better to destroy it. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez,.

You can download the widget linked to the salmonella peanut recall on BAHA’s website www.baha.bz.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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