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20 million hits so far to FDA’s peanut recall site

/ Source: staff and news service reports

Food and Drug Administration officials said the traffic rose between Jan. 19 and Jan. 30 as worried consumers and others checked the recall list that has expanded exponentially — and is expected to continue.

“At this time, we have not determined the amount of the remaining products,” said Michael Herndon, an FDA spokesman. “That will hopefully be determined at the end of the investigation.”

As of Jan. 30, 19,919,717 visits were logged on the FDA site, including about 82 percent viewed through the agency’s searchable database. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was investigating the outbreak on Jan. 8.

FDA adds ‘widget’ to monitor recalls

In addition to the site, the agency also has created an electronic recall widget that consumers can add to their computer desktops and devices to stay abreast of the growing number of potentially tainted peanut products.

Meanwhile, calls to the CDC's consumer line, 1-800-CDC-INFO, jumped from 40 a day to more than 1,000 a day following two media briefings last week, CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said.

Products have been recalled from at least 420 customers of the Blakely, Ga., plant operated by Peanut Corp. of America, where federal officials confirmed salmonella contamination linked to the outbreak that has sickened at least 550 people in 43 states and contributed to eight deaths, according to latest CDC reports. The FDA has launched a criminal investigation into the plant’s practices.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has called for a complete review of FDA operations because, as he told NBC news, he was disturbed by the agency’s response to the outbreak, which was first detected last fall.

The roster of recalled products is growing by dozens each day, implicating ice cream, cookie dough, candies and trail mix after federal officials expanded the recall to include any items manufactured with product from the PCA plant after Jan. 1, 2007. Foods from pad Thai dinners to dog biscuits also have been recalled.

It’s not clear how many of those products remain on store shelves. Manufacturers, retailers and consumers are advised to dispose of them in ways that won’t allow contact with people or animals.

“We may not ever know the full extent of the recall because some if not most of these products have been consumed,” Herndon noted.