WASHINGTON — As of last week, there was no evidence that national-brand peanut butters are contaminated, according to Stephen Sundlof, director of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Consumer confidence in peanut butter has remained positive for the most part, retailers told SN. United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, has not noticed a decline in sales for peanut butter in jars as of records from the week ending Jan. 31, said Tyra Carter, United's corporate dietitian.
One store director Carter spoke with said he gets about two or three questions from consumers each day about what is safe. But shelf signs explaining which products have been recalled seem to be adequately answering their questions.
Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, also hasn't seen a backlash against peanut butter. “In the beginning there was some confusion, but now there's a general understanding that the jars are OK,” said spokeswoman Chris Friesleben.
National-brand manufacturers have been quick to publicize that the recall does not affect their products. “Unilever does not source Skippy peanut butter, Slim-Fast shakes or bars or its retail packaged ice cream brands — Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Popsicle, and Ben & Jerry's — from Peanut Corporation of America, nor do our contract manufacturers,” Unilever said in a statement.
ConAgra reaffirmed that none of its products are involved in the investigation. “Peter Pan is safe to enjoy,” Gary Rodkin, ConAgra's chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Nevertheless, public perception about certain peanut products appears to be changing, according to YouGovPolimetrix's BrandIndex consumer research service. A BrandIndex consumer opinion poll shows that Planter's recently has seen increased negative consumer perception — even though Planter's peanuts have not been recalled. On Jan. 6, before the recall was announced, Planter's had a “Buzz Score” of 19.2, but on Jan. 30 it had slipped to 8.2. The Buzz Score is the result of a daily online poll of 5,000 consumers, who are asked “if you've heard anything about this brand in the past two weeks, has it been positive or negative?” A score ranging from 100 to -100 is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive.