An article in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
Texas health officials said Wednesday that a sample of peanut meal from the Texas plant tested positive for salmonella and also matched the genetic fingerprint of the salmonella implicated in the national outbreak.
Peanut products were regularly shipped between Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., and Plainview, Texas, processing plants, raising the prospect of a contamination link between the two plants, the FDA said Wednesday.
The Blakely plant’s shipments included honey-roasted peanuts, hot and spicy peanuts and other seasoned products, said Stephanie Kwisnek, a spokeswoman for the FDA. The Plainview plant shipped peanut meal to Blakely, she said.
Sundlof, of the FDA, said the agency suspects that the salmonella contamination originated from the Blakely plant and was transferred to the Plainview plant. Many more contaminated products have been traced to the Georgia facility, he said.
So much for my speculation that they weren't shipping back and forth. But the peanut meal comment is intriguing. I think you'd only ship peanut meal if you intended to use it to make peanut butter. And if you look at the CDC site, you can see that all the tests associated with illness came from peanut butter or peanut paste (which, by the way, is also peanut butter -- it just doesn't have anything added) and are a single strain -- now tied back to the Plainview plant.
I'd make the opposite inference from the one Sudlof made -- I'd assume the transfer of bacteria was from was from Plainview to Blakely, based on this article. Infected meal is sent from Texas to Georgia to be ground into peanut butter, and there you go.
And I'd sure want to find out where that peanut meal came from.