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Peanut Corporation Shipment Rejected By Canada For Metal Fragments

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, January 30, 2009 3:06 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Salmonella, CDC, FDA, Food Borne Illness, Public Health, Peanut Butter Recall

FDA failed to stop shipment and inspect peanuts that were rejected by Canada, just before the salmonella outbreak.


IMAGE SOURCE: CDC, map of outbreak

The story keeps getting worse for the peanut plant in Georgia that is at the center of a nationwide recall.

The Associated Press reports in an exclusive that a shipment of peanuts from the plant went to Canada last spring and was found to contain a “filthy, putrid or decomposed substance,” later determined to be metal fragments.

The shipment of broken peanuts was returned by the Canadians through a crossing at Alexandria Bay, New York, but never tested by the Food and Drug Administration’s federal inspectors, even though it was held up from being allowed back into the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration’s Oasis system is supposed to catch shipments of unsafe food from foreign sources.

The incident took place in mid-September while the first outbreaks began a few weeks later on October 1. The CDC reports the number of cases reported appears to be in a decline. While there are eight deaths reported in five states; Idaho (1); Minnesota (3); North Carolina (1); Ohio (1), and Virginia (2).

FDA spokeswoman, Stephanie Kwisnek wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press, "The importer requested to destroy the product”.

Peanut Corporation of America had no comment to the AP.

Federal inspectors said roaches, mold, a leaking roof, and other unacceptable conditions were found at the processing plant in Blakely, Georgia.

So far the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports 529 people have been sickened and eight are dead who had salmonella bacteria in their system, though it is not the confirmed cause of death.

The FDA food recall list grows long and is updated almost daily. The FDA has issued a recall for all peanut butter and peanut paste, distributed to hundreds of processed foods such as crackers to dog biscuits. Jars of peanut butter sold at the retail level are not affected by the recall, as PCA only sold in bulk in jars ranging from 5 lb to 1,700 lb.

An overhaul of the nations’ food inspection network will be a priority of the new administration and Rep. Henry Waxman plans to begin hearing February 11.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of the food safety program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, tells AP the timing of the seizure of these peanuts is significant.

"It strikes me that if FDA was paying attention to this information, that they might have gone and done an inspection of the plant in September instead of waiting until after the products were associated with a major outbreak.” #

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