Federal officials have released a detailed inspection report outlining the unsanitary conditions found at PCA’s Georgia plant – including mold and roaches – and has confirmed the company shipped peanut products despite knowing the products were contaminated with salmonella.
The latest peanut recall includes all peanuts (dry and oil roasted), peanut meal, peanut paste, granulated peanuts and peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) dating back to January 1, 2007.
The recall also includes a warning to pet owners: “Some of the peanut products made by PCA have been used by pet food manufacturers. Salmonella is an organism that can potentially be transferred to people by handling of pet treats.”
PCA products are not sold directly to consumers but distributed to food companies and under private label. Peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient found in many cookies, cakes and other products that can be found in the supermarket.
Hundreds of products have been recalled by food makers in the wake of this salmonella outbreak, which has sickened 500 people in 43 states and may be linked to eight deaths.
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment, but those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.
In pets, salmonella symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and fever. Some pets may have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
FDA Inspection Report Findings
The FDA’s inspection report (pdf) of PCA’s Georgia facility details unsanitary conditions, including (quoted directly from the report):
• "Failure to manufacture food under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination;"
• "Failure to maintain equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold, and store food in a manner that protects against contamination;"
• Failure to store finished food under conditions that would protect against microbial contamination;"
• "Failure to perform mechanical manufacturing steps so as to protect food against contamination;"
• "Effective measures are not being taken to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests."
The FDA has also confirmed the company shipped products that it knew was contaminated with various strains of salmonella - 12 times since 2007.
The salmonella strain Typhimurium is linked to the current outbreak.
According to the report, PCA knew a sample of peanut paste tested positive for salmonella Typhimurium. The company retested the sample and -- after it came back negative for salmonella -- shipped the peanut butter paste.
• During an FDA inspection on January 9, a live roach and several dead ones were found in the facility’s washroom which is located next to the production/packaging area.
• Mold growing on the walls and ceiling in the facility’s cooler which is used to store finished products. “Water stains were observed running down from the cooling unit fans to the cooler,” the report states. "On 1/10/09, pallets of finished product were stored directly beneath this unit;"
• After the strain of salmonella Typhimurium was isolated to the peanut paste made on September 26, 2008, the company did not clean the peanut butter line. They continued to manufacture more product in this system from 9/26/08 to the beginning of this inspection 1/9/09.
• PCA stored finished peanut products within 15 feet from a crack in the floor that tested positive for salmonella Senftenberg on January 10, 2009.
There were more unsanitary conditions uncovered during the inspection. If your stomach can handle anymore, you can read the inspection report in full here.
For a full list of recalled products and for the latest news on the salmonella outbreak, the FDA has a dedicated page on its Web site that is updated regularly. #