The House of Representatives just passed the bipartisan Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. If enacted, the legislation would strengthen the FDA, increase inspections of food facilities, and hopefully ensure that tragedies like the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella outbreak become a thing of the past.
The FDA has issued a new ruling that says egg producers must “test regularly for salmonella and buy chicks from suppliers who do the same,” and that eggs “will have to be refrigerated on the farm and during shipment” as well as by wholesalers and in the store. The rule is meant to cut down on the number of egg-related salmonella cases nationwide, which currently are around 142,000 a year. [Washington Post] (Photo: Andreas Kollegger)
Raw alfalfa sprouts have been linked to salmonella outbreaks across the country, according to the FDA. Recent salmonella cases have been diagnosed in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia, and the FDA is linking this outbreak to salmonella infections a few months ago in other states, including Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. (Photo: Erin Collins)
Texas has issued the largest fine in the state’s history to the peanut company blamed in the salmonella outbreak: $14.6 million. [AP]
Peanut distributor refuses to recall peanuts On March 23rd the FDA advised consumers to dispose of any peanut or peanut containing products made or distributed by Westco or Westcott that they find in their homes. That same day it requested a formal recall of all Westco and Westcott products containing peanuts from PCA, and a few days later it requested access to some of its distribution records, but Westco refused to cooperate. [Consumer Reports]
The pistachio recall has been expanded after FDA inspectors found salmonella contamination in “critical areas” of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Calif.
There have been quite a few “salmonella pistachio” recalls in the past few days, so the FDA has set up pistachio HQ on their website. You can search and/or browse the Pistachio Recalled Products List, learn about salmonella, and generally freak out about contaminated pistachios.
President Obama this week declared war on the Chinese Poison Train, announcing that the FDA will receive $1 billion in new funds for modern testing labs and additional food safety inspectors. Inspecting less than 5% of our food processing plants is apparently a “hazard to public health, and “it is unacceptable.” So what’s really behind the new policy shift? No, it’s not those melamine murders or salmonella outbreaks. It’s seven-year-old first daughter Sasha Obama!
Large companies routinely rely on private audits to prove that their food is safe even though private auditors are dangerously incompetent, according to a New York Times investigation. The private auditor who inspected the Peanut Corporation of America plant responsible for unleashing the massive salmonella contamination was trained to audit bakeries and repeatedly gave the plant a “SUPERIOR” rating, partly because he “never thought that [salmonella] would survive in the peanut butter type environment.”
Our sister blog at ConsumerReports.org notes that “current salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanuts could drag on for as long as two years,” according to the FDA. The Peanut Corp of America may be history, but because peanut butter has such a long shelf life, and because they’re still adding products to the recall list, there may be food items lurking in pantries across the U.S. that are loaded with disease-causing peanuty badness.
It was bound to happen, and it looks like it just did: Peanut Corporation of America has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and will liquidate its assets to pay off creditors.
Here’s a handy widget, courtesy of the FDA, that you can use to determine whether or not your Valentine’s Day goodies are a trap set by an angry lover.
Congressional testimony reveals that Stewart Parnell, owner of the Peanut Corp. of America which lies at the center of the investigation over salmonella-tainted peanut-butter that’s killed nine people, is like a living cartoon.