Upsetting – The Salmonella Peanut Butter Plant is a Repeat Offender

photo: Elliott Minor/Associated Press

photo: Elliott Minor/Associated Press

The current salmonella / peanut butter crisis has caused 500 illnesses and 7 deaths, with more product recalls every day (see updated list at the bottom of this post). The New York Times reports that the processing facility in Georgia was repeatedly cited for unsanitary conditions, as recently as 2007:

Inspections of the plant in Blakely, Ga., by the state agriculture department found areas of rust that could flake into food, gaps in warehouse doors large enough for rodents to get through, unmarked spray bottles and containers, and numerous violations of other practices designed to prevent food contamination. The plant, owned by Peanut Corporation of America of Lynchburg, Va., has been shut down.

The inspection reports were provided by Georgia officials in response to a request made by The New York Times under the state’s open records act.

State officials said they could not release two recent inspection reports from 2008 because of the ongoing investigation into the plant. The state performs the inspections on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration as part of a contractual agreement with the federal agency, the officials said.

Read the entire article…

What you need to know:

Critics have harsh words for the FDA in its handling of the outbreak as well as the inability to have prevented it in the first place through more frequent inspections and severe punishments for sanitary or health infringements. To be fair, the FDA is underfunded and understaffed, and while good people work there, they are part of a larger puzzle of inefficiency with respect to food safety. As a small example, the FDA, USDA, and over twenty additional federal bodies are tasked with America’s food safety, instead of just one.

Here’s the Current Recall List:

50 Recalls, over 150 products as of early Saturday morning Jan 24.

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