updated 2/6/2009 7:09:19 PM ET 2009-02-07T00:09:19

Hungry residents in storm-ravaged Arkansas and Kentucky will get new meals from the federal government after some packages distributed were found to have peanut butter that may contain salmonella.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday it was going to ship 660,000 new ready-to-eat meals to the two states after it distributed peanut butter that is part of a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people and has been linked to eight deaths.

Meanwhile, health officials in Texas warned food banks there that some of the FEMA meals distributed after recent disasters may also be contaminated. The Texas Department of State Health Services was trying to identify where the meals, donated to food banks when they were no longer needed after the disasters, were distributed.

The announcement about the new meals came after the agency said packages had been distributed in Kentucky.

An apparent communication breakdown among federal officials allowed the kits to be sent to Kentucky to help feed hundreds of thousands of people left without power at the height of last week's storm, about two weeks after they had been recalled. The storm also swept through Arkansas, but federal officials don't believe people there got the meal kits affected by the recall.

The company that distributed the peanut butter packets used in the meals recalled them last month because of the salmonella outbreak. A Blakely, Ga., peanut-processing plant that produces a fraction of U.S. peanut products is being investigated in the outbreak. Federal officials said Friday the plant knowingly shipped salmonella-laced products as far back as 2007.

The company that packaged the meals, Red Cloud Foods Inc., sent a Jan. 19 memo to the arm of the Department of Defense responsible for getting them to FEMA, which said it didn't learn of the recall until more than two weeks later.

The kits, which contained entrees, cookies, chips and sometimes peanut butter packets, were assembled in September for relief efforts after Hurricane Ike, said Bob Harrison, chairman of South Elgin, Ill.-based Red Cloud Foods Inc.

The new food shipments are Meals Ready to Eat, designed for use by the military.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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