Another Peanut Corp. of America Plant Closed Over Salmonella Contamination

Another <"">Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) plant has been shut down after tests there detected possible salmonella contamination.  According to the Associated Press,  health officials are saying that no contaminated products were shipped from the PCA facility in Plainview, Texas.

Of course, that’s not the case with another shuttered PCA plant in Blakely, Georgia.  As we reported last month, FDA  inspections of the Georgia plant found that PCA shipped peanuts that tested positive for salmonella contamination at least a dozen times in 2007 and 2008. At the time of that discovery, PCA officials told the Food & Drug Administration  (FDA) that those peanuts tested negative for the bacteria in a second round of testing.  But  the FDA reported on Friday that  PCA actually shipped some of the peanuts before the second tests were completed. Other lots were shipped without testing and, in some cases, no second test was performed even after the first one came back positive.

Those products have been linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 600 people across the country.  PCA, which provides ingredients to 85 other food firms, has recalled everything made at its Georgia plant since January 2007.  More than 1800 products made by other firms, including the Kellogg Company and General Mills, have also been recalled. The recalls are so widespread that the FDA has even set up an online  database to help consumers track them.  The agency said it expects the recalls to continue, and has cautioned consumers to avoid foods made with peanut butter or paste unless they are sure the ingredients did not come from PCA.

In a statement released today, the Texas Department of Health revealed that possible salmonella contamination had been detected in peanut meal and granulated peanuts made at PCA’s Plainview facility.  It was not immediately known if the discovery would lead to broader product recalls, the Associated Press said.  The FDA is searching records to see where products from the Plainview plant may have been distributed.  However, the Texas statement said none of the contaminated products had been shipped yet.

According to the Associated Press, the Texas plant is run by a subsidiary of PCA, Plainview Peanut Co.  As we reported last week, this facility was neither inspected nor licensed with health officials, despite having been in operation since 2005.

In addition to the nearly 2000 recalls, the problems at PCA have resulted in a criminal investigation of the company.  Yesterday, the  FBI executed search warrants at the PCA Georgia plant in and at its headquarters in Virginia yesterday.  An Atlanta TV station reported FBI agents entering the plant and leaving with boxes and other material, the Associated Press said.

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