Column: Peanut butter scare has people sticking with jelly sandwiches

This salmonella thing is all over the news. Lots of people have died and hundreds of Americans are sick from poisoned peanut butter. Now, anthrax was a badass thing to be taken down by. Peanut butter is kind of pathetic. Prior to the outbreak I would never have considered eating ants on a log a wild Friday night activity, but I guess I’ll take my thrills wherever I can get them.

In my time I have taken some calculated risks, and ingested some things not recommended by the FDA. For instance, last night I spent a significant amount of time surfing the internet for pictures of the Obama family in my underwear, eating French onion dip that had been sitting out for four days.
If a person deserves to get a little stomach pain for anything, that was it. Karma is on the side of the diarrhea here.

I would be an appropriate victim and I am willing to sacrifice myself Jesus-style, because I feel attacking Grandma on snack break at the nursing home is a low blow, salmonella.

Thus far, eight old people have come to an unpleasant end, suffering stomach cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. But those responsible haven’t gotten away with it. To get to the bottom (ha!) of all this, doctors take samples of the aforementioned diarrhea of people with salmonella poisoning. These sweet little specimens are sent off for genetic fingerprinting. Since there are over 2,300 strains of salmonella bacteria, fecal investigators get excited when people from totally different places have the same salmonella strains in their poop.

The dump doctors work backwards to figure out what everybody ate, and then decide where it came from. This is how a plant in little ol’ Blakely Georgia came to be shunned for trying to kill grandma.

To put it in perspective, though, the USDA tells me about 1.4 million Americans get Salmonella poisoning annually and so far only 575 have gotten sick from the peanut butter outbreak.

Fear of salmonella is the reason people avoid eating raw eggs and chicken. It is a common bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and on some fruits and vegetables.

You guys remember the jalapeño and tomato fiasco last summer? Same idea. A couple of farms happen to have produce with a bad strain of salmonella, their products get widely distributed, and all of a sudden hundreds of pepper-eaters are feeling fiery at both ends.

For the most part, though, this isn’t that big of a deal. Thousands of people every year truck through the bloody diarrhea like champs. The old, sick and very young are the people who are in trouble here. Incidentally, they also happen to be the type of people consuming peanut paste from industrial-size vats of peanut product, which is what the Blakely plant produced.

Should you be hankering for some chancy peanut product, the other place to get it en masse is from FEMA. Having decided most disaster victims have moved out of formaldehyde-infested trailers, FEMA figured it was time to strike again, and gave Kentuckian ice storm survivors MREs chock full of the good stuff. FEMA also recommends injured parties sprinkle a little strychnine on their peanut butter, just in case their lives didn’t suck enough, you know, because of the disaster.

Clearly something has to be done to protect the children at risk. My research tells me this is will not be the first time legislative action has been taken to protect kids from salmonella.

Aside from animal products and veggies, salmonella also makes it into our lives via reptiles, specifically pet turtles.

The “Four-inch rule” passed by the FDA in 1975 stated that pet stores can’t sell turtles with shells shorter than four inches. This is because several kids were stupid enough to shove turtles in their mouths and get salmonella poisoning.

Personally, I think anyone who tries to eat their pet turtle joins me in the “gross and deserving of stomach problems” camp.

My army of salmonella-infected children will be good test subjects for a sweet study taking place. Microbiologist Vince Fischetti of Rockefeller University is testing to see whether booze kills salmonella in eggnog made with raw eggs. He isn’t sure what the answer is yet, which is great, since I want to sign up the turtle-eaters and I.

What could be more exciting than Russian roulette with salmonella and alcohol? In fact, I think we should all participate.

This weekend, everyone buy some of your favorite peanut paste product, gather some friends, down some beverages, and let me know if you get horribly, horribly ill in 12-72 hours. How’s that for leadership, Teach for America?