The Georgia peanut plant responsible for the salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 500 and killed at least 7 was repeatedly cited with health code violations for being “not properly cleaned and sanitized.”
State health inspection reports from 2006 and 2007 obtained by the New York Times found that the plant, owned by Peanut Corporation of America, did not properly clean and sanitize kettles, belts, or pans, among other violations. This is especially a problem when the plant in question had salmonella on the floor, which recent inspections confirmed this plant did.
Food safety and consumer groups are outraged that none of these violations triggered any kind of enforcement or punitive action, but it’s pretty commonplace for the FDA, which has limited resources or power to punish food manufacturers and order recalls. Thankfully, that might change soon. Some influential members of Congress are proposing food safety improvements for the FDA and USDA, and we’re hopeful that some positive change comes out of this situation.