Malaysia's health ministry Thursday said it was investigating the Famous Amos cookie chain after it withdrew dough from several of its outlets here amid fears that it was contaminated by the salmonella bacterium.
The action followed an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in the United States, which has made at least 474 people sick since September as a result of infected peanut butter and peanut paste dough, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
The health ministry said it had launched a probe into Famous Amos here based on information it received that the infected dough had been exported to Malaysia for the company's use.
"The health ministry has investigated and found the company is indeed using the dough which contains peanut butter and peanut paste which is imported from the Peanut Corporation of America," it said in a statement.
"The company has withdrawn the dough which is sold at three of its premises," it added.
Famous Amos company representatives here said the company did use peanut butter in cookies in Malaysia but that all its cookies were safe for consumption.
"There is only one dough (suspected of being contaminated with salmonella), called premium choice, which we had carried and (which was only) available in limited locations," the company's general manager Jesrina Liew told AFP.
"The batch which they suspected of contamination is still in our inventory and has not been distributed yet. (The premium choice cookies) we have recalled were from an earlier batch of dough and had not been contaminated," she added.
The salmonella bacterium is spread most often by the consumption of food contaminated by animal fecal matter, according to health experts.
The microbe usually flourishes within the intestinal tracts of fowl and mammals.
An estimated 1.4 million human salmonella infections occur each year, causing about 15,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths, according to the CDC.