For several weeks we’ve been observing the return of Peter Pan peanut butter to store shelves.  We’ve noted two things.   One,  incredible price cutting.   A jar of peanut butter that normally goes for around $3 is available for under a dollar.   Two,  the shelve space grocery stores are giving to Peter Pan’s return is tiny whether compared to competitors or the historic amount.

So, we were really interested in Albany, AL-based television station WALB’s story marking the first anniversary of the closure of the Peter Pan processing plant in Sylvester, AL after it acknowledged was poisoning people with salmonella in its jars.

And, WALB noted the processing plant has now been back in business for six months.  And the spin from ConAgra Foods, which owns the Peter Pan label, is everything is going gangbusters, thank you very much!  Or as WALB put it:

Salmonella bacteria sickened more than 600 people in 47 states. It’s been six months since production resumed. We sat down with the plant manager as ConAgra prepares to roll out the additional varieties of Peter Pan. ConAgra says business is better than it was before the salmonella outbreak.

The WALB story relies upon the word of Earl Ehret, the plant manager.  He says the plant is now operating 20 hour shifts, six days a week and is now shipping all varieties of Peter Pan. He told WALB that:

Over the next six months, ConAgra would learn it was a roof leak that lead to the salmonella contamination. They replaced the roof, reworked the floor plan which included separating the raw products from the finished peanut butter, installed a new roaster, and more.

"We put a new air system in the plant. The plant’s now humidity and climate controlled, not only for the process but it’s a more controlled environment for the people who work in the plant," said Ehret

We find it difficult to believe Ehret did not know the roof was leaking.  Of course, maybe he did, and  why ConAgra Foods keeps their loyal guy on the job.  WALB’s story can be found here.  It’s too bad they did not think of visiting a grocery store or two and speaking with some consumers.  They might also have probed to  find out how much ConAgra is spending to bring back the brand.

Marler Clark is a leader in the litigation that is pending against ConAgra, owner of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter that was traced as the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak.