Peanut Corp Says Salmonella Plant Was Regularly Inspected, Given Good Ratings

Peanut Corp. of America is now saying that its Georgia plant was regularly inspected by the FDA and given a “meets or exceeds” rating. This doesn’t excuse the company from its own failings, but we think it points out what President Obama recently noted, which is that the FDA inspection system doesn’t seem to work very well.

“We want the public to know that there were regular visits and inspections of the Blakely facility by federal and state regulators in 2008,” Peanut Corp of America said.

“Independent audit and food safety firms also conducted customary unannounced inspections of the Blakely facility in 2008,” it said in a statement, noting the plant got an overall superior rating on one visit and, in another, was found to “meet or exceed” audit expectations.

“Peanut Corp of America says plant was inspected” [Reuters]
“Inspection reports from peanut plant varied widely” [Associated Press]

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  1. mythago says:

    In other words, this is going to be their defense in the inevitable lawsuits: the government didn’t catch us so you can’t hold us responsible.

    • Gokuhouse says:

      @mythago: You are correct. This is the age of no responsibility.

    • Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

      @mythago: Dont worry everyone. Free Market will take care of everything.

      Except funeral costs.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @Fresh-Fest-1986: Don’t know much, do you? Libertarian laissez-faire free-market economic theory does not, and never has, let fraudsters off the hook for committing fraud or exonerated harmers from the consequences of their active or passive harm. Those things would be actionable in a libertarian system, just as they are actionable now.

        • Inglix_the_Mad says:

          @speedwell, avatar of snark:

          Good luck with that mate. First you’ll have to get evidence of it, find a judge willing to allow it forth, and a lawyer willing to stake a large amount of time and money on it (after tort “reform”), it’ll be more daunting than now. How long would it take just to finish the discovery process here and, with less authority, how could you prove without a witness that they knowingly shafted everyone? Are you expecting the good will of others to help you? I’ll give you a hint, don’t.

          Not only that but Libertarians somehow believe that less government = less reason for reason to buy it. What a fallacious joke.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @speedwell, avatar of snark: Those things would be actionable in a libertarian system, just as they are actionable now, by your next-of-kin.
          There, fixed!

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            @Trai_Dep: Right, because in the present system the government can of course be relied upon to protect us from fraud and theft before it happens. How long does it take for the police to respond when you call them in your neck of the woods?

            Next?

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @speedwell, avatar of snark: Using your analogy, I wouldn’t be able to call the police, since they wouldn’t exist, since they’re an abridgment of John Galt’s freedom. So I’d have to beat the burglar down myself, using a stick I hand-carved from an oak tree I was farsighted enough to plant a long enough time ago that its branches were club-sized. Only with courts, sensible regulation and enforcement.
              On another tact, I’m assuming that the existence of police is kosher. So individuals organizing and vesting power to gov’t entities to prevent my car stereo being stolen is okay, but doing the same to prevent my children being poisoned by some Southern cracker businessman isn’t? I’m unsure I follow the logic. I mean, I luvs my music but…

  2. IT-Chick says:

    I wish they would address the important matter here… Are Nutty Bars safe?

    What does it take for a plant to get a good review? Some schmo who was lazy that day and just wrote “passed” on a piece of paper? That guy should do me a favor then and go work for the EPA.

  3. chris_d says:

    With George W. Bush’s FDA, you could fill jars with hog manure, call it peanut butter, and still get an overall superior rating. I can’t recall as many food poisoning incidents during the rest of my life as there were during the W. era.

    • sebadoh128 says:

      @chris_d:

      I can.

      Jack in the box in 1993 or 94 killed a bunch of people, there was a crazy e-coli scare back then. E-Coli also reared it’s ugly head in 1997, I think it was Burger king that time around.

      1996 or 1997 crazy mexican strawberries had Hep C and that was pretty widespread, at least here in California.

      Big Ice Cream salmonella scare in 94-95 if I recall.

      I am sure there was more, the major difference was no interwebs back then (at least not the current form).

      So, let’s see, the common thread seems to be an badly run FDA, regardless of the administration.

    • econobiker says:

      @chris_d: The internet and sensational news manufacturing have contributed to the info explosion.

      “DANGEROUS FOOD FACTORY! FIND OUT IF YOUR CHILD’S PEANUT BUTTER IS SAFE? WATCH NEWS CHANNEL 5′S REPORT AT 6PM!!!!!!”

    • __Ken__ says:

      @chris_d: Lol, the last time I worked in a food processing factory the President of the United States came and inspected it every time.

  4. lowercase says:

    I don’t exactly qualify as an insider here, but I interned in an FDA inspection office. I was just a filer, and I’m not in Georgia, but I can safely say that the inspectors out of that office were honest, hard working individuals who did the best they could with what they had. Which, of course, was not nearly enough. It’s absurd to think that a team of 8, 10, even 20 inspectors could reasonably keep up with an entire state’s worth of food processing facilities.

    For as much money as the government manages to go through, a shockingly small amount gets out to FDA field offices. And I can also assure you that nobody takes these kind of outbreaks as badly as the bottom level field teams.

    I hate to say that the solution, or part of it, is more money- but I have to think a reallocation could be possible.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @lowercase: Wow, the government is such a failure and a waste it fails its own employees too? So you want to give it even more money to piss away? More fool you.

      • lowercase says:

        @speedwell, avatar of snark: No, I didn’t say give the government more money- I’m saying that they need to figure out why all that money isn’t getting down to the front lines, and then fix it.

        Obama’s concept of a Chief Performance Officer, on paper, might actually do some of that reviewing. We’ll see- first he’s gotta find one with a clean tax record, which is apparently really hard to do.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @speedwell, avatar of snark: Because private sector free market businesses have the public interest at heart?

        I love a lot of what Libertarians have to offer. But blind faith in any party is stupid. Face it we need the best of both private and public in order to aid the people.

        I’m sure you’re in favor of private militaries too right? Or we should remove federal currency and go back to state run where they were free to make up rates as they wanted and states decided what other states they would take?

        FDA was created back in 1906 by one of the greatest American Presidents we have ever had. He read and witnessed first hand what unchecked private free market businesses did to our huddled masses.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @lowercase: We were discussing this issue this morning at the co-operative extension board meeting (USDA/State U cooperative extension). They’ve VERY short-staffed, and more money is being pulled from the front-lines at the bottom of the ladder (USDA and extensions are sharing in these cuts with the FDA). Things further up the ladder manage to continue to be funded, but front-line EFNEP and USDA inspectors and things like that are losing funds. Sad.

  5. BlackMage is doing the Time Warp agaaaaaaain!!! says:

    So, what you’re telling me is an underfunded, understaffed, and underpowered government agency failed to adequately achieve insanely high expectations?

    Everything I thought I knew has just been reversed. Up is down. White is black. The Iraq war wasn’t demanded by God.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @BlackMage is doing the Time Warp agaaaaaaain!!!: Well, the government is there to take care of us, so we can trust them to do their jobs thoroughly, honestly, and efficiently, especially where it concerns something as important as the nation’s food supply.

      /sarcasm

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @BlackMage is doing the Time Warp agaaaaaaain!!!: Sounds a lot like the child protection programs around the country. Case workers are only supposed to have a max of 20 clients ended up with hundreds to keep track of… severely under-funded, tons of gaps in work being done and information…etc.

      • ScottRose says:

        @downwithmonstercable: And yet when they raise taxes, people complain.

        We operate on a “good enough” philosophy when it comes to our government, whether you want to recognize it or not. No one cares a whit about social workers, FDA inspectors, or the president himself unless something gets f’d up.

        And even then we only care about it for as long as a news cycle takes to complete and a band-aid is put on the problem.

        Blame the government and you blame yourself [for electing/tolerating it].
        Blame the media and you blame yourself [for watching/reading it].

        (In some cases you can replace the word “yourself” above with “the majority of Americans”, but you get my point..)

        It’ll be back to business as usual next month.

        • Sidecutter says:

          @ScottRose: We complain because our taxes are being wasted on pet projects, frivolities, good ol’ boy contract deals, and overpayment for supplies and services. Instead of using the money wisely and in a fiscally responsible manne,r as we are expected to, the government overspends and overpays for many things.

          If the money was spent well, and allocated properly, we might not mind so much. But as it stands, we know that when they want to raise our taxes, the money will *still* not go to good causes like social work, to any meaningful degree. Instead it will again be wasted, and the shortfalls will be bemoaned by the politicians.

  6. Nitrokart knows CPR and took that guy's wallet says:

    OK, that makes sense. It gets good ratings so it must be fine to eat! Oh… wait…

  7. MooseOfReason says:

    So maybe Peanut Corp. wasn’t the source of the salmonella, and they’re just being used as a scapegoat.

  8. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    Absolution is abscissa, the blessed state of being able to say: “It’s not my fault!”

    This is what happens when you put the fox in charge of the hen house.

  9. theblackdog says:

    So with all the products being recalled, how do we know when they’re safe to eat again? I noticed a favorite candy of mine got hit by the recall and I would love to know when I can have it again.

  10. Borax-Johnson says:

    And in related news, the cheif Peanut Company of America FDA inspector was recently seen in a 2009 Mercedes G Class with a I heart PCA license plate.

  11. Christopher Scott says:

    The problem isn’t that these programs are being under-funded. If anything these programs are over-funded.

    No, the problem is that the elected officials running these programs are robbing our country blind and laughing their way to the bank.

    The solution isn’t more funding. The solution is to round up all the criminal dirtbags that run the FDA and various other agencies, and let them rot in prison forever. I am sick and tired of politicians STEALING OUR MONEY in pure daylight and getting away with it. How come our corrupt government agencies never get audited by incorruptible outside auditing agencies? What.. the.. ****??

  12. mythago says:

    @speedwell, avatar of snark: Actually, it does. “Actionable” means resorting to government-run courts with government-run enforcement, including seizing your property.

    And you don’t know much about law and courts if you think that a laissez-faire government won’t be used by wrongdoers. “Why, even the government didn’t see fit to prevent this – since what we did was legal, how can it be wrong?” Yes, there really are tons of people who believe this kind of thinking.

  13. karmaghost says:

    It probably doesn’t help that when inspectors show up, they announce themselves far in advance.