JANUARY 29, 2009 – According to the Food and Drug Administration, the Peanut Corporation of America found salmonella in its plant in Blakely, Georgia, but shipped the tainted product anyway. The Peanut Corporation of America found strains of salmonella during twelve tests it conducted in 2007 and 2008 at its Blakely, Georgia, plant. In January of 2009, FDA inspectors visited the plant and found still more salmonella contamination. Federal inspectors reported having found roaches, mold, a leaking roof, and other sanitation issues.
According to Georgia’s agricultural commissioner, the Peanut Corporation simply found another laboratory to test their products until they passed. Instead, the tainted lot should have been destroyed immediately.
Nor did the Peanut Corporation clean the plant to prevent further contamination from salmonella, despite salmonella being linked to over 500 cases of illness linked to the bacterium, at least eight of which involved death. This month, Peanut Corporation of America began recalling over 300 products that used their peanut butter and paste.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced oversight hearings will begin February 11, 2009. There is much concern over the FDA’s failure to follow up on a shipment of chopped peanuts that had apparently been exported to Canada but refused due to contamination. These chopped peanuts were returned to the U.S. but refused reentry by the FDA. The rejected shipment should have been tested by the FDA; instead, the whereabouts of the shipment are unknown. However, this transpired in September of 2008, only weeks before the onset of the national salmonella outbreak that has been traced to peanuts. This has led many to believe that the FDA’s failure to ensure the contaminated shipment was destroyed, and failure to inspect the factory that created the product (the Peanut Corporation’s Blakely, Georgia factory) enabled the shipment to simply be sent elsewhere. Read more.