Update on Peanut Contamination: FDA under "complete review"

Articles
February 02, 2009

Update on Peanut Contamination: FDA under "complete review"

Originating from a Georgia factory that has had a history of sanitation issues, salmonella contamination, and even a shipment seized last April at the Canadian border for containing metallic pieces, the current recall of potentially contaminated products has sickened at least 529 people and eight have died. More than 430 products ranging from baked goods to pet food have been pulled from supermarket shelves, and as of Friday, federal health officials have opened a criminal investigation against the peanut-processing plant in Blakely, Georgia where the salmonella started. Although it may be difficult to see the silver lining is such a disastrous breakdown in the nation's food safety procedures, and consumer's confidence in the ethics and dependability of food manufacturers will ultimately suffer, the upside is that maybe eyes are open enough now to make a change. With President Obama only ten days in office, and tackling a long list of serious and urgent issues, he did say to Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning "At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter." The new President has ordered a "complete review" of the Food and Drug Administration, which some say the agency has suffered for the last eight years due to extreme budget cuts under the Bush administration.

Originating from a Georgia factory that has had a history of sanitation issues, salmonella contamination, and even a shipment seized last April at the Canadian border for containing metallic pieces, the current recall of potentially contaminated products has sickened at least 529 people and eight have died. More than 430 products ranging from baked goods to pet food have been pulled from supermarket shelves, and as of Friday, federal health officials have opened a criminal investigation against the peanut-processing plant in Blakely, Georgia where the salmonella started.

Although it may be difficult to see the silver lining is such a disastrous breakdown in the nation's food safety procedures, and consumer's confidence in the ethics and dependability of food manufacturers will ultimately suffer, the upside is that maybe eyes are open enough now to make a change.

With President Obama only ten days in office, and tackling a long list of serious and urgent issues, he did say to Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning "At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter." The new President has ordered a "complete review" of the Food and Drug Administration, which some say the agency has suffered for the last eight years due to extreme budget cuts under the Bush administration.

What seems to be the most alarming discovery in uncovering how salmonella ended up in these peanut products is that the company under investigation may have had a salmonella problem as far back as April of 2007. However, in an inspection last June, following up the metallic fragments found in the Canadian shipment, no samples were taken to look for salmonella. This is also the case in an October state inspection. In fact, the company may have shipped products that tested positive for salmonella in labs, but then were retested with negative results.

Officials are warning consumers to beware of "boutique" peanut butter products that may have not been considered in the previous recall. Although the national brands of peanut butter have not show signs of contamination, some smaller companies may have received products from the plant in Georgia.

A complete list of recalled products can be found at this site: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm.