FDA Shuts Down Trader Joe’s–Associated Peanut Butter Plant

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Watch out! Photo: Courtesy FDA

Back in September Trader Joe’s voluntarily pulled its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter from store shelves over concerns that it had sickened dozens with salmonella. Yesterday the FDA, wielding new power granted to it from last year’s food safety law, moved to shut down the New Mexico facility where the offending peanut butter was made. (The plant also made peanut butter for companies like Whole Foods and Target.) Identifying the peanut butter and other nut products processed there as a "reasonable probability" of causing serious health problems or death, the agency suspended the manufacturer Sunland Inc.’s registration. The AP says that under old rules, the FDA would have had to take Sunland to court to block it from producing or distributing food. Now the onus is on the company to prove that its facilities are clean and safe before it can resume operations. Considering FDA officials discovered dirty equipment, improper handling of ingredients, and trailers full of peanuts outside the facility that were left uncovered and exposed to rain and birds, it sounds as though they've got some work to do. [AP, Earlier]