Feds Order Organic Peanut Plant Closed Over Salmonella Outbreak

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON — The federal government ordered the nation’s largest organic peanut butter processor closed on Monday following a string of salmonella-related illnesses in 20 states.

The Food and Drug Administration ordered the Sunland, Inc. processing plant in New Mexico closed on Monday. The plant produced organic peanut butter for the Trader Joe’s grocery store chain, as well as peanut products sold at Whole Foods, Safeway, Target and other retailers.

Click here for more on the Sunland investigation, including a list of recalled products, from the Food and Drug Administration.

Investigators traced an outbreak of salmonella poisoning that affected 41 people – mostly children – in 20 states this fall to the Sunland plant as inspectors found samples of salmonella in 28 different locations across the plant, including 13 peanut butter samples and in one sample of raw peanuts.

In addition, investigators found improper food handling techniques, unclean equipment and uncovered trailers of peanuts outside that had been exposed to rain and birds.

The FDA claims that it found the same problems in earlier inspections dating back to 2007, but did not act. A 2011 food safety law gave the agency the enforcement power to shut a plant down.

In a statement released earlier this month, Sunland denied knowingly shipping tainted products.

“At no time in its 24-year history has Sunland, Inc. released for distribution any products that it knew to be potentially contaminated with harmful microorganisms,” said the statement on the company’s website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s