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Consumers: Take Peanut Precautions

This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, shows the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga.
AP Photo/Elliott Minor
This morning in "Healthwatch," the focus is on the salmonella outbreak in peanut products. The recall has been expanded and now includes all products produced at a Georgia plant for the past two years.

Registered dietitian and Early Show contributor Keri Glassman is here with more.

"What's the most important thing consumers need to know about this expanded recall?" Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen asked.

"We have to remember that the Peanut Corporation of America does not sell jarred peanut butter or peanuts direct to consumers. They sell to institutions. They do, however, sell many ingredients to many food manufacturers throughout the country, which is why this is affecting so many products," Glassman said.

The original recall only included peanut butter paste.

"This latest recall now includes peanut butter meal and granulated peanuts. So consumers really need to read their food labels and check the FDA Web site to see if any of the products that are in their pantry are affected," Glassman explained.

Granulated peanuts and peanut meal are in more food products than we may realize.

"Any products that are in your pantry aside from obviously your jarred peanut butter that might have peanut butter flavor. So everything from ice cream to pet foods to crackers to cookies, anything with peanuts, or peanut flavor - you want to read labels carefully," Glassman said.

During the holidays, a box of chocolates is a common gift to give and some assortments may have peanuts inside of them.

"Absolutely. And read the labels. If you have any doubt, throw it out. It is not worth it. Salmonella is the most common food-borne illness and obviously you do not want to be exposed," Glassman said.

Hershey Co., maker of Reese's peanut butter cups and other chocolate candies, announced that it does not buy peanut butter or other products from the company at the center of a major salmonella outbreak and said that all of its products with peanuts or peanut butter are safe to consume.

Glassman said consumers should exercise caution and not solely rely on stores to remove every product related to this recall.

"You can't necessarily depend that every single store has pulled everything," Glassman said. "They are supposed to, but I would still read those labels very carefully and check on your own and check the FDA Web site to see. You also want to check your pantry and clear everything out."