Apr 6, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – ConAgra, the producer of peanut butter linked to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in February, announced yesterday that its own investigation found that moisture might have triggered the growth of the bacteria.Inadvertent moisture in the company’s Sylvester, Ga., production facility could have allowed the growth of dormant Salmonella organisms that were likely present in raw peanuts or peanut dust, ConAgra stated in a press release yesterday.Stephanie Childs, ConAgra spokesperson, told the Associated Press that the moisture came from a roof that leaked during a rainstorm and a faulty sprinkler system that went off twice. The company cleaned the plant thoroughly and repaired the sprinkler system after the moisture problems occurred, she said.The Salmonella outbreak began in August and sickened 425 patients in 44 states. After the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked Salmonella enterica serovar Tennessee isolates from sick patients to their consumption of Peter Pan products and certain jars of Great Value peanut butter, both made at the Sylvester, Ga., plant, ConAgra recalled the products on Feb 14. S enterica typically causes fever and nonbloody diarrhea that resolves in a week.On Mar 1, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that its investigators found S enterica in samples collected at the ConAgra plant, suggesting that the contamination occurred before the product reached consumers.ConAgra, in its press release, detailed several steps it will take to improve the safety of its food products. The company:Established a new position, vice president of global food safety, and appointed Paul A. Hall, a nationally recognized food safety expert, to the postFormed a Food Safety Advisory Committee, headed by Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of GeorgiaApproved a plan to install new machinery throughout the plantIn response to ConAgra’s announcement, Michael Herndon, an FDA spokesperson, told CIDRAP News that “The FDA’s mission is to protect and promote the public health and to that end supports ConAgra’s steps to help safeguard the food supply as outlined in their release.”The FDA’s investigation at the plant is ongoing, he said.ConAgra said it has contracted with a third-party manufacturer to make Peter Pan products while plant renovations are under way at the Sylvester, Ga., plant. It said it expected to resume shipping Peter Pan products to retailers this summer and reopen its plant in August.
“Tailgate 48” is a television show that airs weekly on the Big Ten Network. Each weekend hosts Jason Fisher and Alex Curry visit a Big Ten school for 48 hours to visit with coaches, hang out at hot spots in town and learn about game-day traditions. Last weekend the “Tailgate 48” crew came to the University of Wisconsin to discover what Madison has to offer. Badger Herald Extra Points Sports Blog editor Spencer Smith met up with them on Saturday to find out what they liked best about Wisconsin’s capital city and the University of Wisconsin. BH: So what is Tailgate 48 all about?Fischer: Tailgate 48 is a really fun show on the Big Ten Network. It’s basically if you had 48 hours on campus, we’d show you the ultimate way to live it up: where to eat, where to hang out. We interview players and coaches, different amazing athletes in the Big Ten and show you all of the traditions. It is the best way to experience 48 hours the weekend of the big game.Curry: You are supposed to have as much fun as you possibly can while you are there for 48 hours and we are showing you how you can do it.BH: When I say University of Wisconsin, what comes to your mind?Fischer: For me ‘Jump Around’ is so much fun. We have had a chance to go to all of the Big Ten schools and people always ask me where the best tailgates are or who has the best fans and I think a game at Camp Randall Stadium is better than anywhere else in the Big Ten. It’s so much fun. It’s one big party.Curry: Athletics. You guys have really strong athletic teams here. We got to talk to coach Bo Ryan and he was great. All the different coaches, everyone has so much pride and spirit in your school.BH: When you think of UW students, what do you think of?Fischer: I think there is just so much spirit here. There’s so much school spirit here, everyone is so into their teams and supporting it and really about having fun…We interviewed coach Bielema yesterday and that’s what he said too. I asked him what he tells his players before every single game in the locker room and he said ‘remember to go out there and have fun.’ I think everyone keeps it in perspective. They take it seriously but they take their fun seriously here too.Curry: Everyone’s really dedicated. The fans are dedicated, the coaches are dedicated and the players are dedicated. So it’s like one big fun-dedicated atmosphere.BH: Did you get a sense of UW coaches being proud to work for this University?Curry: Very proud. Coach Bo Ryan had his fundraiser on Thursday and I think he donated over $42,000 and he was just so happy that students wanted to be there and help give back for Coaches vs. Cancer and it was a way for him to get more involved with the students and the entire school in general.BH: What has been the best part so far about your time in Madison?Curry: So coach Ryan challenged me to the fundraiser challenge. So I got to take the free throw shot and the half court shot. I took the free throw shot and it didn’t go over so well. We were talking about it and we decided that I can “granny” the halfway shot. They looked at me and said ‘it’s a little further than you think’. No one thought I could make it. So I throw it up and get nothing but net. I sunk it.Fischer: I am extremely jealous of that moment. For me it’s so cool being here for homecoming. Last night we were at the union and out on the terrace for the fireworks and the parade. Just seeing cheerleaders from the 1950’s back here and families whose children go here now and parents were back and grandparents. All the generations of people for homecoming that have this pride in the school is a really cool thing to see.BH: Would you say you were looking forward to Madison when you saw it on your schedule?Curry: Yes we were crossing our fingers that we were going to make it to Wisconsin sometime during the season and we found out a week ago that it was going to be our last spot.Fischer: I was here last year for the show and it was one of the most fun, if not the most fun, school in the entire Big Ten. It really feels like one big party here. It is awesome.BH: What is the best event or tradition that you have experience all year with this show?Fischer: Each school has something really unique. Penn State, for example, has ‘Nittanyville’ where all of the fans start sleeping out on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week and camp out for a ticket for front row seats. We were at Michigan last week where students sleep out in front of the ‘M’ and guard the ‘M’ when Michigan State comes to town. My favorite is ‘Jump Around.’ I am excited for that between the third and fourth quarter.Curry: We’ve been to three campuses when its homecoming. So that’s fun too, to see how each campus just does homecoming and how it really brings alumni, students, athletes and the entire school together.BH: Do you think this excitement on game-day weekends is kind of exclusive to the Big Ten?Curry: It is. It’s a way of life here in the Big Ten. Football, college, school spirit: it’s what people live for and it’s so amazing to be a part of it and see it first hand through our show.Fischer: I think what the Big Ten has, what other conferences don’t, is the tradition. All of these programs in the Big Ten date back over 100 years. There are unbelievable football traditions and fans. Getting to be a part of the traditions as they carry on today is really special.BH: Is there anything special that you wanted to do in Madison once you got here?Fischer: I had some cheese curds yesterday, always have to have cheese curds. We went to the ‘Old Fashioned’ for lunch and that was a good spot. Brats and cheese curds, I love food so you get a lot of that here. Curry: I’m really excited to see the stadium. I have never been inside Camp Randall so I’m stoked for that.To see Alex Curry and Jason Fischer discover Madison and UW, tune into the Big Ten Network at 5 or 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. You can follow both of the hosts on twitter at @alex_curry and @jzfish.