ConAgra finds source of taint in Peter Pan

Packaged food maker says it has identified the source of salmonella in recalled peanut butter.

(CNN) -- ConAgra announced Thursday it will reopen its Georgia plant after having discovered the source of salmonella contamination of its Peter Pan peanut butter, which sickened more than 400 people last year.

"The company believes that moisture inadvertently entered the production process and allowed the growth of low levels of dormant salmonella in the environment that were likely present from raw peanuts or peanut dust," the company said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Salmonella contamination in ConAgra's peanut butter sickened more that 400 people last year.

"We are truly sorry for any harm that our peanut butter products caused and intend to resolve claims related to peanut butter fairly and expeditiously," said Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods' chief executive officer.

In the statement, the company said it will appoint a food safety expert to "consolidate responsibility for existing and future company wide oversight of food safety initiatives and systems in a single position."

In addition, it will form a food safety advisory committee, it said.

The Sylvester, Ga., plant - to be equipped with "new, state-of-the-art machinery, technology and designs" - will reopen in August, it said.

Shares of ConAgra (Charts) edged lower on the New York Stock Exchange, while its competitors Unilever (Charts) and Kraft Foods (Charts) ended higher.

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