Across the U.S., directors of food pantries are removing donated foods containing peanut products. In San Diego, this couldn't have happened at a worse time.
The outbreak, which has sickened at least 550 people in 43 states and contributed to eight deaths, has led to an ever-growing recall that has taxed volunteer resources, strained food inventories and planted new worries about emergency food provided to already vulnerable people.
In San Diego, volunteers for the Food Bank are working overtime to remove 37,000 pounds of potential tainted peanut butter products, according to the charity's spokesperson. They are destroying all the snacks including peanut butter in 400 warehouse pallets received during the Food Bank's Holiday Food Drive.
"This couldn't have happened at a worse time," San Diego Food Bank CEO J. Scofield Hage said. "We're trying to feed tens of thousands more people every month and we have had to remove 37,000 pounds worth of food from our shelves."
So far, none of the illnesses or deaths has been linked to food bank foods, said Lola Russell, spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Products from at least 420 of the firm's commercial customers dating to Jan. 1, 2007 have been added daily to a growing roster of potentially tainted foods.