Friday, October 5, 2012

Sunland Foods expands recall in light of Salmonella positive envrionmental samples

The peanut butter recall expanded again as Sunland Foods is recalling all products made in its manufacturing plant after March 1, 2010. The initial recall was started when peanut butter made for Trader Joe's was linked to a Salmonella outbreak. That outbreak includes 35 illnesses in 19 states.

The expanded recall includes close to 240 different products and encompasses 2 ½ years of production. The decision to expand the recall comes after investigators found Salmonella in the processing environment as well as in the product.  Impacted retailers now include Safeway, Target, and Whole Foods.

Why would the recall be expanded? After doing the sampling/testing of the processing environment, the FDA determined that the facility had a contamination issue in the facility as evidenced by the positive environmental samples. To push the recall so far back in time may be due to the fact there were inadequate controls in place to control Salmonella - including proper sanitation of the processing environment and environmental monitoring systems demonstrating control.

 As we know, Salmonella can exist for long periods of time in dry environments. If there is no evidence, or inadequate evidence, that the processing environment was properly cleaned over time and there was inadequate evidence that monitoring/testing was completed to verify that cleaning, they may have concluded that there is the potential risk of more products being contaminated over a longer period of time. A case of ‘how do you know?’. One can see the questions being asked during an investigation such as this – how do you know this contamination wasn’t here for a long time? How do you know that employees were properly cleaning? How do you know the right concentration of sanitizer was being applied? How do you know that the cleaning being done was actually controlling Salmonella? This is where record keeping and verification procedures are critical. A little paranoia also helps.

FDA records indicate that in 2010, an investigation found "objectionable conditions", but these were not significant enough to warrant action.

 Sunland, Inc. Announces Voluntary Expansion of Ongoing Recall To Include All Products Manufactured in its Peanut Butter Plant After March 1, 2010 Due to Possible Health Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2012 – Sunland, Inc. today announced a voluntary expansion of its ongoing recall of all products manufactured in its Peanut Butter Plant because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Specifically, the recall is being expanded to include all products manufactured in its Peanut Butter Plant after March 1, 2010.The scope of the initial recall covered one hundred one (101) products manufactured between May 1, 2012 and September 24, 2012. The expanded recall adds forty-nine (49) products that are currently within the manufacturer’s recommended shelf-life, that is, the “Best-If-Used-By” dates have not expired. The expanded recall also adds ninety (90) products consumers may still have in their homes which are older than the “Best-If-Used-By Date”. Distribution of many of the products being added to the recall was discontinued some time ago. The expanded recall covers all previously identified Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, and Tahini products as well as Roasted Blanched Peanut Products. New product categories being added to the list are several varieties of flavored butters and spreads, including Thai Ginger Butter, Chocolate Butter and Banana Butter.

The Company is voluntarily expanding the recall to cover all products manufactured in its Peanut Butter Plant since March 2010 because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient requires hospitalization. Older adults, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

None of the one hundred-thirty nine (139) products being added to the recall list have been associated with any reported illness to date; however, the Company initiated the recall on September 24, 2012, after receiving a September 22, 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that between June 11, 2012 and September 2, 2012, twenty-nine (29) people reported Salmonella Bredeney PFGE matching illnesses in approximately eighteen (18) states, and that among those reporting illnesses, fourteen persons had been interviewed at that time, with twelve reporting having eaten the same single product made by the Company. As of September 25, 2012, the CDC reported a total of thirty (30) illnesses in nineteen (19) states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Additional testing conducted as part of the joint investigation by the Company and FDA since the recall was initiated has confirmed the presence of Salmonella Bredeney, according to a report provided to the Company by the CDC and FDA on October 3, 2012. The FDA and the Company are continuing their investigation.

The products were distributed under the Company’s own label and under other brand names, and were distributed nationally to numerous large supermarket, grocery and retail chains. The products also were available for purchase on the internet.

All products with “Best-If-Used-By” dates of March 1, 2011 or later should be returned or discarded immediately. Consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products are urged not to eat them and to return or dispose of them immediately. The “Best-If-Used-By” date is stamped on the side of the jar's label below the lid of the jar. The UPC is located below the bar code on all products. For products in jars it will appear on the side of the jar’s label. For products in other types of containers, the bar code may be located elsewhere on the packaging.

Consumers can contact the Company at 1-866-837-1018 for information on the recall. This toll- free number is operational 24 hours a day. Consumers who have products which are within their current shelf life (“Best-If-Used-By” dates of October 4, 2012 and later) should return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund or discard them. All expired products (“Best- If-Used-By” dates of October 4, 2012 and earlier) should be discarded. Customers who purchased products directly from the Company’s website should discard the products and contact the Company at 1-866-837-1018.

"For twenty-two years Sunland has been committed to producing high quality, safe products and taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety and good health of everyone who enjoys them. We are most concerned about the individuals experiencing these recent illnesses. Sunland is dedicating all of its resources to the identification and correction of any conditions which have created the potential for Salmonella contamination in any of our products. We are reviewing every step in our manufacturing process and are confident that the expertise being applied to the investigation will enable Sunland to take any necessary corrective measures and once again produce products that families will enjoy with confidence."

October 4, 2012 Statement of Jimmie Shearer, President and CEO of Sunland, Inc.
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the FDA. The specifics of the affected products are set forth below. Products being added to the list for the first time appear in the first table. All previously identified products follow in the second table.

Salmonella confirmed in New Mexico peanut butter plant, company recalls products since 2010

By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, October 5, 1:51 PM

WASHINGTON — Salmonella has been found in a New Mexico plant that produces nut butters for retailer Trader Joe’s and several other large national grocery chains, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday. The Trader Joe’s peanut butter is now linked to 35 salmonella illnesses in 19 states — most of them in children under the age of 10.

Washington state health officials have also confirmed the presence of salmonella in an opened jar of the Trader Joe’s peanut butter found in a victim’s home, the FDA said

Though the illnesses have only been linked to the Trader Joe’s peanut butter, the government findings have prompted New Mexico-based Sunland Inc. to recall everything made in the plant since March of 2010 — a total of 240 products. The company last month recalled 101 products that were manufactured in the plant this year.

An FDA investigation found salmonella in environmental samples taken from various surfaces in the plant, officials said. The agency did not release any other details about conditions at the plant.

The recall includes nut butters and nut products sold at Whole Foods Market, Target, Safeway, Costco, Fresh & Easy, Harry and David, Sprouts, Heinen’s, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, Giant Food of Landover, Md., and several other stores since 2010.

Some of those retailers used Sunland ingredients in items they prepared and packaged themselves or sold the peanut butter in jars labeled with a store brand. Some stores and companies that used Sunland products as ingredients have issued additional recalls.

The products recalled include peanut butters, almond butters, cashew butters, tahini, and blanched and roasted peanut products. The expanded recall this week added several varieties of flavored butters and spreads, including Sunland’s Thai Ginger Butter, Chocolate Butter and Banana Butter. Brand names included are Target’s Archer Farms, Safeway’s Open Nature, Earth Balance, Fresh & Easy, Late July, Heinen’s, Joseph’s, Natural Value, Naturally More, Peanut Power Butter, Serious Food, Snaclite Power, Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts, Sunland and Dogsbutter.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that officials now count 35 salmonella illnesses in 19 states across the country that can be traced to the Trader Joe’s peanut butter. The greatest numbers of illnesses were in California and Texas. Five illnesses were reported in each.

 Those sickened reported becoming ill between June 14 and Sept. 18, according to the CDC. Sixty-three percent were children under the age of 10 and the median age of the victims is seven. No deaths have been reported.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 hours to 72 hours after infection. It is most dangerous to children, the elderly and others with weak immune systems.

Other major peanut butter brands like Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan are not included in the recall. An outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter in 2008 and 2009 linked to one company and thousands of products sickened 714 people in 46 states.

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