The largest USDA certified organic peanut processing plant is shutdown after health experts linked the plant to a salmonella outbreak. Hundreds of peanut products have been recalled as a result of the outbreak, and 36 people have been sickened by the tainted food in 20 states.
Outbreak started with Trader Joe’s product
The outbreak was first recognized in Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, which Sunland manufactured and packaged. That product was recalled, and dozens of other peanut products followed. About 75 varieties of almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini and roasted blanched peanut products have been recalled.
Only goods produced between May 1 and Sept. 24 are affected. The expanded recall is “a precautionary step,” Sunland said in a statement.
Some shoppers unaware of recall
“I haven’t even heard about it,” Albuquerque resident Holly Dockstader told the Huffington Post. Dockstader was shopping at Trader Joe’s with her kids when a reporter asked her if she heard about the salmonella outbreak.
“I am out of peanut butter. But I guess I won’t be buying it for a while,” she said unaware of the recent recall.
Cleaning the plant
Sunland, the company that operates the New Mexico based plant, has been shutdown for several weeks. A spokesperson says the plant is being cleaned from top to bottom.
“The plant is being torn down as it was, and when it is put back together it will include many new pieces of equipment and improved controls,” Sunland spokeswoman Katalin Coburn said.
The company is hoping to resume operation in about a week, but the FDA will need to sign off on health regulations first.
“We are very concerned about it,” said Wayne Baker, a retired peanut farmer and chairman of the New Mexico Peanut Growers Association. “The harvest is going on as normal and Sunland is receiving peanuts, but we have got to get the FDA to approve some changes and get going.”