If you have a jar of peanut butter whose serial number begins with "2111", throw it out, the U.S. government advises. (AP)
ATLANTA (AP) - Government scientists struggled Thursday to pinpoint the source of the first U.S. salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter, the kid favorite packed into millions of lunchboxes every day.
Nearly 300 people in 39 states have fallen ill since August, and federal health investigators said they strongly suspect Peter Pan peanut butter and certain batches of Wal-Mart's Great Value house brand - both manufactured by ConAgra Foods Inc.
Shoppers across the country were warned to throw out jars with a product code on the lid beginning with "2111," which denotes the plant where it was made.
How the dangerous germ got into the peanut butter was a mystery. But because peanuts are usually heated to high, germ-killing temperatures during the manufacturing process, government and industry officials said the contamination may have been caused by dirty jars or equipment.