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FDA Knew of Contamination Problems at Peanut Butter Plant for Years

Here’s an interesting article about the Peanut Butter Salmonella outbreak written by Anne Borden. Click here to read the full story on Lawyers and Settlements webpage. Click here for more information on the outbreak.

Sylvester, GA: The Washington Post has reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew for years about contamination at the Georgia ConAgra plant which produced peanut butter that has sickened more than 400 people across the US.

In 2005, FDA inspectors were at the Sylvester-based plant to investigate complaints of an alleged episode of salmonella in a 2004 product. But when company managers refused to provide documents crucial to the investigation, the inspectors left and did not follow up.

Was the Outbreak Preventable?
At the time of the 2005 FDA inspection, ConAgra admitted to inspectors that it had destroyed some of its product in October 2004, without explaining why. FDA inspectors also stated in the report that "the firm didn’t react to insects in some equipment, water leaking onto product, and inability to track some product."

But the FDA did not take action regarding the contamination until February of 2007, when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a spike in salmonella cases in states near the ConAgra plant. The FDA then contacted ConAgra Foods, which recalled all varieties of its Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter manufactured at the plant.

This has led consumer advocates and lawmakers to wonder: could this outbreak have been prevented entirely with basic investigative follow-through?