Peanut Butter Situation Gets Stickier
Today we learned that the peanut plant at the center of the peanut butter salmonella outbreak has a checkered past. The death toll from this recent outbreak is now up to seven, with hundreds of illnesses reported, over 100 of which have resulted in hospitalization.
From the article:
The processing plant in Georgia that produced peanut butter tainted by salmonella has a history of sanitation lapses and was cited repeatedly in 2006 and 2007 for having dirty surfaces and walls and grease residue and dirt build-up throughout the plant, according to state health inspection reports.
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.
Wait, what? Repeated failure of safety inspections? Well then, wherefore art thou, FDA? The folks over at ThePopTort, with their usual sass, made note of the agency's "nutty" neglect of the public's health and safety after a case of salmonella arose back in September. This new information (uncovered thanks to a NYT investigation) that a series of violations have occurred over the past few years only makes matters worse:
The repeated violations should have triggered punitive action, said Food & Water Watch, a food safety group based in Washington, D.C..
“If there is a record of habitual violations of food safety standards, the F.D.A. should have initiated strenuous enforcement action,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist with the group. “This company needed more scrutiny. If this plant was in fact so dirty, they were asking for trouble.”
Some interesting commentary on this issue comes from the comment section of a DailyKos blogpost (Like: "market forces solve everything... By literally killing those who cannot afford safe food, I guess". And: "This is another shining example of how dangerous it is to politicize an agency. the FDA or any other agency can do a much better job with adequate funding.")
It's worth noting that the information about these previous violations came to the surface thanks to some shrewd journalists out there who were determined to uncover all the facts about how this happened.