Peanut Butter Making Factory Closed by FDA

Nov 30, 2012

United States’ Food and Drug Administration has used the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to close down a nut processing factory that produces nut items like peanut butter. In September the factory was forced to recall large batches of its peanut butter after various consumers were found to have contracted Salmonella from them, most of it was due from the factory’s unsanitary conditions and their mishandling of the nuts.

FSMA was signed by President Obama to give places such as the FDA the authority to shut down any factories or food producers that could pose a problem to public health. The FDA, for the very first time, used its authority to shut down the nut factory Sunland Inc. based at Portales, NM. It was a milestone in public health considering that prior to the act, it could take the FDA various years of fighting in court to get anything done or shut down a business incapable of complying with the law.

From peanut butters to spread, Sunland would use their facilities to make them all. They would then distribute the products to popular retailers Target, Safeway and even Whole Foods prior to the massive recall.  Between the periods of March 1, 2010 and September 24, 2012, Sunland saw most of their nut products produced at their facilities recalled.

When forty-one people in twenty states claimed to have contracted Salmonella and investigations seemed to point towards Sunbeam, the FDA decided on the closure of the factory.

“Coupled with Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration” the FDA informed in their statement.

Company records discovered during the investigation indicated that there were traces of Salmonella in at least 11 batches of the product over a three year span between the dates of June 2009 and December 2012. Despite the finding, Sunland distributed the nut products risking the health of the consumer.

“Between March 2010 and September 2012, at least a portion of eight product lots of nut butter that Sunland Inc.’s own testing program identified as containing Salmonella was distributed by the company to consumers,” the FDA stated.

“Additionally, during its inspection of the plant in September and October 2012, the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in 28 environmental samples (from surfaces in production or manufacturing areas) and in 13 nut butter product samples and one product sample of raw peanuts.”

During the inspection, the FDA found out that there was “improper handling of products, unclean equipment and uncovered trailers of peanuts that were exposed to rain and birds outside the facility.” This indicates that excrement form birds and other animals could have made their way into the nuts.

“The FDA will reinstate Sunland Inc.’s registration only when the FDA determines that the company has implemented procedures to produce safe products,” stated the agency when they shut the facilities on Monday.

Negligence on behalf of the manufacturer is unacceptable, especially when it comes to foodstuffs, contact our toxic exposure lawyer if you have become ill as a result.

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