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American consumers deserve better inspections, regulation of food supply

I was shocked to hear on the radio about the poor conditions of a factory that was the subject of a large peanut butter recall.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to do a better job of inspecting and regulating food sold in this country. I agree with members of Congress who are demanding an investigation of the peanut butter contamination that occurred and possible criminal charges against the company.

Peanut Butter on a Piece of BreadThe FDA announced yesterday that the Peanut Corp. of America is voluntarily recalling all peanuts and peanut products processed in its Blakely, Ga. facility since Jan. 1, 2007. Previously, Peanut Corp. announced a recall of peanut butter and peanut paste.

 The voluntary recall comes during an FDA investigation into a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 500 people nationwide beginning in September, with the largest number of illnesses reported in November.

The action occurred after federal officials discovered this month that Peanut Corp. knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella 12 times in 2007 and 2008, according to the article "Every Peanut Produce From Ga. Plant Recalled" in the Washington Post.

 After federal investigators traced the current outbreak to the Blakely plant, they made 14 visits earlier this month and documented unsanitary conditions, poor practices, and structural problems that invited bacterial contamination, the article states.

The inspection reports, made public yesterday by the FDA, detail mold growing on a ceiling, rainwater leaking into the production area from skylights, gaps in the building where rodents could enter, dead roaches, and inadequate ventilation, among other defects.

Raw peanuts, which can carry bacteria, were stored near roasted peanuts, increasing the chances for contamination, the report said. Peanut products ready for packaging were stored 15 feet from a spot where a swab tested positive for one of four salmonella strains that the FDA said existed in the plant. A single sink was used by workers to wash their hands as well as utensils and mops, making it possible to pass contaminants among all three.

The last time the FDA inspected the plant was in 2001, according to the article. In 2006, the agency contracted inspections to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. State inspectors visited the plant about twice a year, but in 2008 they didn’t check for salmonella. The state inspection reports all seemed to play down deficiencies, saying all that was needed was routine follow-up.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. 

Comments

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Sharon/The Baby Boomer Queen

This is one nasty company, because they knowingly shipped out peanut butter product with salmonella.
They have knowingly been poisoning people since 2007.
Cross contaminating equipment and areas. Mold growing on the ceiling. It is a wonder that half of their workers are not ill.
I have just finished writing several reports on PCA and salmonella.
Come by and have some tea with me sometime...

Southern smiles and world peace,
Sharon
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

Rita

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for writing. The filthy conditions are deplorable in any food company.

I hope the Obama administration can improve the FDA and its practices. Also the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recalls of food and products are at an all time high. That millions and millions of toys were recalled in the last two years is scandalous.

Rita

P.S. Come up to the cool Pacific Northwest and have some organic green tea with me. It's high in antioxidants.

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