FDA Closes Peanut Butter Plant Implicated in Salmonella Outbreak

Using new powers granted to it under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently shuttered the nation’s largest organic peanut butter processor.

Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant had been implicated in a salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states. The FDA investigated the facility and allegedly found traces of salmonella in 28 different areas within the processing plant. The agency suspended Sunland’s registration, which prevents the company from producing or distributing any food.

The new law allows the FDA to suspend the registration of a company if the agency suspects that there is a reasonable possibility that food manufactured there may cause serious health problems or death. Before the FSMA was passed, the FDA would have had to go to court to suspend a company’s registration.

The FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods told the Huffington Post, “Consumers can be assured that products will not leave this facility until we determine they have implemented preventative measures that are effective to produce safe products.”

The order took Sunland by surprise. The federal agency issued the order the day before the plant was slated to reopen. Sunland had voluntarily shut down the plant in September due to the salmonella concerns.

The FDA found many problems at the plant, including unclean equipment and trailers of peanuts exposed to rain and birds. The agency accused the company of knowingly shipping salmonella-tainted products – an accusation Sunland denies.

Millions of Americans are victims of foodborne illness every year. If you’ve been sickened by a food product, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, hospitalization, lost wages, and other damages. The Jacksonville food recall lawyers at Farah & Farah can help you understand what legal options are available to you. We can be reached at (800) 533-3555 for a confidential and complementary consultation today.