What's grosser than gross? Bird crap in your peanut butter.
The Food and Drug Administration has finally grown a pair and shut down the dirty factory that was responsible for the massive peanut butter et al recall in September, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In shuttering Sunland Inc. of Portales, NM, the agency for the first time used new powers granted by the Food Safety Modernization Act. President Obama signed the bill, which gives the FDA the authority to shut down food producers in the name of public health, into law two years ago. Before, the FDA would have to go through court to stop a company's production of filthy food products.
Sunland makes peanut butter, nut spreads and hundreds of other nut-based products distributed by retailers throughout the country, such as Target, Safeway and Whole Foods. At least they used to. Their troubles began a couple of months ago with a recall of one brand of Trader Joe's peanut butter. The recall expanded exponentially from there and eventually included 240 different products, including everything from cookies, brownies and snack mixes to chicken spring rolls and tahini dip. The final recall included every single product that came out of Sunland's factory between March 1, 2010 and Sept. 24, 2012 -- that's everything they made in the last two years-plus.
Peanut butter produced by Sunland was linked to a widespread Salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states. That, "coupled with Sunland's history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company's registration," the FDA's statement on the shutdown reads.
The FDA's review of the company's records found Salmonella in 11 batches of product over a span of three years: between June 2009 and December 2012. Sunland distributed products in spite of these findings, the FDA says.
"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 statement reads.
The Feds go on: "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."
You may want to put down your PBJ before you read this next part: The agency also found "improper handling of products, unclean equipment and uncovered trailers of peanuts that were exposed to rain and birds outside the facility."
On Monday, the FDA laid down the hammer, suspending Sunland's Food Facility Registration, prohibiting the company from distributing food until it requests an informal hearing from the FDA and takes corrective measures to make its facilities safer. "The FDA will reinstate Sunland Inc.'s registration only when the FDA determines that the company has implemented procedures to produce safe products."
Considering that these people put avian excrement in our peanut butter, let's hope that's never.
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