FDA Says Sunland Knowingly Sold Salmonella-Tainted Peanut Butter since 2009, and Had Bird Poop on Peanuts

Sunland Inc., the peanut butter maker linked to a 20-state Salmonella outbreak, has been knowingly shipping peanut butter tainted by Salmonella since 2009, according to newly released reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA report lists peanut butter that was at least partially distributed that tested positive for:

  • Salmonella Newport on June 10, 2009;
  • Salmonella Dallgow on March 20, 2010;
  • Salmonella Dallgow on  February 2, 2011;
  • Salmonella Arapahoe on August 18, 2011;
  • Salmonella Teddington on August 18 and 19, 2011;
  • Salmonella Cerro on August 19, 2011;
  • Salmonella Mbandaka on September 19 and 23, 2011;
  • Salmonella MaaRaalm and Kubacha on September 23, 2011; and
  • Salmonella Bredeney on June 19, and July 14, 2012.

There were also positive tests of Salmonella Meleagridis in almond butter on August 23, 2012.

Some Disgusting Findings by the FDA

The level of filth and lack of sanitation is unconscionable. Here is a sampling of what the FDA found:

  • Equipment was not cleaned after Salmonella was detected;
  • Equipment was not cleaned adequately or maintained properly in general;
  • Employees did not wash hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated;
  • Plumbing is not adequately installed and maintained to properly convey sewage and liquid disposable waste from the plant;
  • The tote bags used at the plant are considered multi-use, and re-used for both raw and roasted peanuts (if roasting had killed the Salmonella, the tote bags introduced it again); and (drum roll, please)
  • Bird poop on in-shell peanuts because they were stored outdoors in an open bin where swarms of birds flew over them.

The FDA initially found the poop problem in 2011. According to a letter from Sunland to the FDA, the problem was “corrected”:

Corrective Action: Bird excreta was removed before peanuts were put back in the process to be shelled. Date completed: March 26, 2011

While investigating the Sunland plant after this year’s outbreak, the FDA found that Sunland was still storing peanuts outside in an open bin with birds (“too many to count”) flying overhead. It is no surprise that Sunland’s peanut products caused an outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning. The FDA should not have accepted wiping off poop before shelling the peanuts as corrective action. Instead, the FDA should have required those peanuts to be thrown out and the company to store the peanuts where bird poop could not get on them.  Surely a child could come up with that solution.

More than 250 products made with Sunland peanut butter or peanuts have been recalled since early September, 2012. At least 41 people in 20 states have confirmed cases of salmonellosis. The outbreak strain found in their stool samples matches the strain found in unopened jars of Sunland peanut butter and environmental swabs taken from multiple locations at the plant.  The evidence against Sunland is substantial, and victims of the outbreak and their families can contact our Salmonella lawyers for a free consultation here.

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Category: Food Poisoning
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