Personal Injury

Probe of salmonella outbreak uncovers earlier peanut problems

A shipment of chopped peanuts from Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, Georgia, facility was rejected in Canada because it was deemed “filthy and putrid,” officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. 

The shipment was refused by the importer in Canada in April 2008. The importer requested that it be destroyed. Tests of the refused shipment later showed that the chopped peanuts contained metal fragments. The shipment was not destroyed until November 17, more than 7 months after it was rejected, because the Peanut Corporation tried to clean it up.

“The shipment was rejected from Canada and imported back to the U.S. and PCA,” Domenic Veneziano, director of import operations and policy for the FDA’s office of Regulatory Affairs, told the Chicago Tribune.

“They tried to recondition the shipment … and clean it up, and it could not be done. … The FDA went out and witnessed that shipment … and ensured that it was destroyed,” the Tribune reported.

Although the FDA maintains it took the right measures in preventing distribution of the contaminated shipment, the federal government says that the agency did not inspect the processing plant in Blakely, where the shipment originated.

Some members of Congress accuse Peanut Corporation of America of shopping around for negative test results on batches of peanut products that already tested positive for salmonella bacteria.

Peanut products contaminated with salmonella have caused 529 cases of food poisoning in nearly every state and Canada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All of Peanut Corporation’s roasted peanuts, granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter, and peanut paste have been recalled by the FDA. The peanut products have been used in more than 400 other products nationwide, in addition to institutions such as long-term care facilities, cafeterias, and even the U.S. Army.