LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Important health warning

Dear Sir:

I just want to transmit to the people of CARICOM what I just saw on the American ABC news at 8.19am on Thursday, February 15, 2007. There is a very bad batch of Peter Pan brand name peanut butter in circulation that starts with the product code 2111 (read the label to find it); it has caused over 300 Americans to contract salmonella poisoning already.

It is a popular brand in most CARICOM countries (and the ONLY brand I see in the interior communities of Guyana) - readers please take the time to check for the 2111 product code and avoid purchasing any jars of Peter Pan brand peanut butter with this code; and go a step further and ask the store manager to remove all the jars of this infected batch from the store shelves, some unsuspecting person will undoubtedly purchase and consume some and become violently ill.

Bear in mind that whenever the developed countries have products they cannot legally sell in their own borders - they tend to end up being sold to our developing countries (DDT ring a bell?); the unscrupulous will not lose money - they just sell their products to others.

God willing, the editors of CARICOM newspapers who are reading this will exert some influence on the various ministries of health in CARICOM and urge the ministers to sieze and remove the infected jars with the 2111 product code. I have seen Amerindian children die of severe diarrhoea in my lifetime in a community that had a health centre - what about the thousands of other poor communities of all races where no such facilities exist? If even one person dies because those who could have done something chose to do nothing, we can consider ourselves to be members of a 'humanity' that is devoid of 'human beings'.

Damon Gerard Corrie

Editor's note: For the guidance of readers, the following wire service report on this topic was released on Thursday:

Hundreds sickened by peanut butter

WASHINGTON, USA (UPI) -- The US Food and Drug Administration has warned that certain batches of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter had been linked to a salmonella outbreak.

An FDA warning affects jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter with a product code on the lid that begins with the number "2111." Both products are manufactured at a ConAgra facility in Georgia.

In a release, the agency said the warning is based on a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that linked 288 cases of food borne illness in 39 states to Peter Pan peanut butter.

The agency said that if consumers have any of the Peter Pan or Great Value brand peanut butter in their home that has been purchased since May 2006, they should discard it. ConAgra has recalled the peanut butter.

Symptoms of illness caused by salmonella bacteria include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The illness can be life-threatening to people in poor health or with weakened immune systems.

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