Jeff Koeze's Blog Good Food, Good Business, and the Good Food Business

2Mar/090

FDA Hints at Peanut Field Problems

In a post a couple weeks ago describing my company's reaction to the initial PCA disaster, I reported my thoughts at the time:

But now we had a second recall in two years.  Had something changed in the peanut supply chain -- practices in the peanut fields, in the shelling process, in the heat resistance of salmonella? -- that meant that industry practices which had previously prevented illness were no longer effective?  Was general nastiness in the PCA plant enough to explain to their problems?  (Maybe, but I have my doubts.) If it is general nastiness, why was the FDA considering moving peanut butter to the "high risk"category?  Political cover?  Or do they share some of my questions? (Emphasis added.)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that officials at the FDA shared some of my questions:

The FDA is examining peanut shelling operations that supplied raw peanuts to the Blakely plant, an official with the agency said. Depending on what they find, they’ll look at farms that supplied peanuts to the shellers.

According to the paper, the FDA is looking beyond conditions in the PCA plants to practices at the shellers, and ultimately in the fields,  because the strain of salmonella found in one unopened jar of PCA-produced peanut butter is a genetic match to the same salmonella that was implicated in the Peter Pan recall two years ago.  This suggests a source upstream from the two plants.

And, if the FDA finds problems upstream, we have to ask what this means for the scope of the current recall?

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