NM peanut plant shut down by FDA

November 27, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration has shut down a New Mexico peanut butter processor after dozens of people in 20 states were sickened.  For the first time the FDA is using new enforcement authority it gained in 2011.

FDA inspectors shut down operations at Sunland Inc. It is the largest processor of organic peanut butter in the country. The FDA says peanut butter made by the company is linked to an outbreak of Salmonella that has sickened 41 people. The agency says those cases coupled with Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to suspend the company’s production.

The agency says records showed 11 cases of Salmonella contamination between June 2009 and September 2012. Inspectors found more problems during recent plant inspections.

Most of those who became ill were children who ate organic peanut butter purchased at Trader Joe's stores. Sunland also sold nut products to other grocery chains around the country.

The Food Safety Modernization Act gives the FDA authority to suspend a company’s production when food manufactured or held there has a “reasonable probability” of causing serious health problems or death.

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