RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With the expansion of a multi-state recall of certain Jif peanut butter products due to possible salmonella contamination, food banks already struggling in Central Virginia have had to adapt to operate without the shelf staple.
The Chesterfield Food Bank, which has reported both a decrease in donations and an increase in the need for food over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, had the affected products pulled from its shelves on Monday. Assistant Executive Director Nicholas Jenkins said that volunteers were working to remove the recalled Jif peanut butter as quickly as possible, while also preparing for upcoming summer programs to support the community.
“We really want to ensure that we can provide […] not just healthy, but [also] safe food to our clients,” Jenkins said. “The reality is, though, this is a difficult time for something like this to be taking place. Obviously, that goes without saying. But, for us, we’re right in the process of collecting food for our Kids Summer Food Program, which serves 10- to 15,000 kids through the summer.”
On Wednesday, the pantry at the Chesterfield Food Bank still had peanut butter on the shelves. But the recalled Jif products had been separated into a shopping cart away from the other items, with signage noting which lot numbers were affected.
“In the process of us having to remove this product, we’re also facing food shortages and donation shortages and inflation and a long list of other reasons why we’re seeing decreased,” Jenkins said. “This is just another blow that we take while we’re trying to provide food for people who are facing food insecurity.”
Consumers have been instructed to check if they have Jif peanut butter at home, and, if so, locate the lot code on the back of the jar, under the ‘Best If Used By’ date. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted that the lot code may be next to the ‘Best If Used By’ date for cups or squeeze pouches. In the lot code, if the first four digits are between 1274 and 2140, and if the next three numbers after that are 425, the product has been recalled and should not be consumed.
As of this publication, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 14 total illnesses — one in Virginia — and two hospitalizations, but no deaths.
“Any time that we face food recalls, it’s just another layer of obstacles that we have to work through, and that means we have to work through it as a community and come together to make up for whatever’s lost,” Jenkins said.
However, Sudeshna Das-Menezes with the Henrico Community Food Bank told 8News that the organization’s mobile operations have made the multi-state Jif peanut butter recall less impactful.
“The peanut butter recall hasn’t impacted us as much right now because we don’t have a distribution,” Das-Menezes said. “We are, however, monitoring the situation because we know the next few distributions we have lined up, peanut butter is very much on the list.”
8News spoke with Das-Menezes just as she was about to shop for food to deliver to a client Wednesday afternoon. She said that peanut butter had not been requested.
“I think with supply chain issues, that’ll be interesting to monitor,” Das-Menezes said. “If that is something that we are just not able to get, then we will be looking at possible alternatives.”
The Henrico Community Food Bank is a relatively new operation, founded in February of 2021 after Das-Menezes noted the need of roughly 30,000 Henrico County residents who were considered food insecure.
“As a Henrico resident, I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve lived here for 12-some years. I’ve never really thought about this. What do I do?'” she said. “I actually took it out to the county administration, and that really kind of was the genesis of this entire organization.”
Das-Menezes said she previously worked at Feed More for 16 years.
That nonprofit’s operations team sent the following statement to 8News:
We’re following our standard recall procedure — this means that we are checking our warehouse inventory and disposing of any recalled products that we may have in stock. We have also sent out the recall notice to our 280+ partner food pantries and instructed them to inspect their inventories and dispose of any recalled products.
We did not have any recalled Jif products in our inventory on hand in our warehouse here at Feed More. We are inspecting all unsorted community donations as part of our ongoing recall process, but to date, that amount has been just a handful. We typically don’t get a lot of brand-name peanut butter and other products donated to us, and we stay away from brand-name products like Jif when sourcing bulk food purchases.
Anyone who experiences the following symptoms after eating recalled peanut butter is urged to contact their healthcare provider:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- Bloody diarrhea
- So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Not peeing much
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up