The Great Peanut Butter Recall of 2007

Walmart Customer Service Blogger “Behind The Counter” has issued a report from the front lines of the ConAgra Peanut Butter Recall. As you may know, jars of Peter Pan and Great Value (Walmart) brand peanut butter with product code 2111 on them have been linked to a salmonella outbreak. Consumers were supposed to contact ConAgra for a refund. Did they listen? No, they went to Walmart and ruined poor “Behind the Counter’s” life:

The typical conversation goes something like this:

THEM: “We want to return this peanut butter.”
ME: “Okay.” And I check the top for the lot number. You never know. “Do you still have your receipt?”
THEM: “Who keeps food receipts?”
ME: “Okay. I just need your drivers license then.”
THEM: “Why? I didn’t need it when I bought it?”

And so on. All day long. WHY DO I HAVE TO HAVE A DRIVERS LICENSE TO RETURN RECALLED PEANUT BUTTER? No matter how much they bought I gave them cash back, even though we’re supposed to do more than $5 on a gift card. I wasn’t about to face off with some evil grannies and grampers over some salmonella-infected PB.

This is why you should read consumer blogs that post helpful information about issues like this. Ahem.—MEGHANN MARCO

If I Never See Another Jar Of Peanut Butter [Behind The Counter]


Edit Your Comment

  1. micho says:

    What’s up with the link?

  2. bluegus32 says:

    Actually, why do you need a driver’s license to return your Walmart brand peanut butter to Walmart?

    While I certainly sympathize with the headache, and applaud the fact that s/he gave the customers cash back despite “policy” I have to wonder why s/he feels the need to call these people evil? Not their fault that they bought infected peanut butter. Not their fault that Walmart has some kind of crazy return policies for products that could kill people.

    I don’t care what the policy is, if I buy a product that gets recalled because of a potential of killing me, then I don’t need no receipt and I don’t need no driver’s license.

  3. RulesLawyer says:

    You’d blow a gasket, too, if you had to work the return counter at WalMart.

  4. lychnismint says:

    The ConAgra website says:
    “For a full product refund, you may do one of two things:

    As of Feb. 16, ConAgra Foods has authorized retailers to accept returns of open or unopened jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter or Great Value Peanut Butter marked with a product code beginning with 2111 for a full refund. You should return your peanut butter to the store where you bought it.
    Or you can send your Peter Pan Peanut Butter or Great Value Peanut Butter lid or label with the product code beginning with 2111 to ConAgra Foods along with your name and mailing address for a full refund. That mailing address is ConAgra Foods, P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103.”

    It was ridiculous to expect people to mail in a lid to get a refund. Ridiculous that you need a receipt to return recalled peanut butter. People are doing what they have been told to do. It is not their fault that “Behind the Counter” has old information.

  5. sp3nc3 says:

    The link has a double http:// at the beginning. Until they fix it, here it is.

  6. gorckat says:

    @micho: It has an extra http// in the beginning. It can be right-click copy and pasted to the address bar and fixed, or just click here:


  7. Tallanvor says:

    There was another press release sent out as well that said retailers could also take back the peanut butter. –It may suck for the people in the stores, but it’s a lot better for the consumer who doesn’t have to worry about postage and packaging to send in the lid off of a peanut butter jar.

  8. Chaoticfluffy says:

    How did I manage to not know that the recall applied to Great Value, as well as to Peter Pan? I just checked my (still unopened) jar of Wal-Mart pb in my pantry and it’s part of the recall…if I hadn’t read this post I would never have known. Adds a whole ‘nother level to “reasons I read Consumerist”!

  9. lastfm says:

    I have to say that not all stores are handling returns like “big blue”. I happen to work for the regional grocer “H-E-B”, and have witnessed these returns, including my own, first-hand.

    The typical conversation at H-E-B goes something like this:

    Customer: “Peanut Butter”
    CSR: Puts cash in hand

    No questions asked. We understand the situation, and want to keep the customer satisfied through this situation.

  10. codegrl says:

    I still don’t understand spending $2-3 on postage to get a refund of $2-3….I didn’t make the tainted P’nut butter & I didn’t sell it.
    My husband went to Publix and before he could fully approach the service counter the lady asked “Refund?” And handed him the cash. Easy, fast, everyone got on with their lives. WalMart could learn a lot from other companies.

  11. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    From reading the other posts on his blog, it sounds like his life was pretty unhappy to begin with. His day job is for a newspaper, and he claims to hate it more than working at Wal-Mart. He took the job at Wal-Mart to earn extra cash.

  12. any such name says:

    honest to god email from my grandmother:

    Grandpa just finished a 20 oz jar of Peter Pan peanut butter that is being recalled, and he is going to turn in the jar cap for cash. Usually he buys Jiff, but probably saw Peter Pan priced lower. It has a 2008 use by date so it will probably be around for a while if people don’t check. It wasn’t known to cause any deaths, just illness. I hope you don’t have any of it.

  13. healthdog says:

    This poor bastard would hate me, then. Show your DL to return peanut butter? Like I don’t get enough junk mail as it is. I’m sorry your life sucks, Walmart return guy, but don’t expect people to treat you with reverence when you demand stupidity.

  14. perfectly_cromulent says:

    I’m pretty sure Wal-Mart has this policy of showing your DL for any return. (correct me if I’m wrong). Also, I’m pretty sure the reason they do this is to keep a record of returns made. Best way to track scammers, really. Personally, at my job I get more annoyed that people act like it’s such an inconvenience to take 5 seconds and show an ID.

  15. TedSez says:

    So the policy is to mail WalMart back the lid… leaving customers with an open jar of contaminated peanut butter in their possession. Wow, that’s a lot better!

    I wonder how many kids are going to get into the garbage and get sick now? Oh, well…. I’m sure Mr. Behind the Counter will blame it all on the parents who didn’t think to double-bag the stuff and driving it to a locked dumpster.

  16. Macroy says:


    No, they’ll probably blame it on the parents who forgot to teach their children to not rummage through the trash can and eat any and all peanut butter content within.

    At least I probably would.

  17. mfergel says:

    I discovered I had a half eaten jar of the infected peanut butter yesterday. I threw it out. I know for a fact that I bought it at Walmart but I have better things to do with my time than either mailing in a lid or heading to the Walmart return line. I guess ultimately I’m simply happy that my 5 year old didn’t wind up sick from it.

  18. medalian1 says:

    I have the 6lb tub from sams and its under recall. I’m eating it all THEN sending in the part w/ the code for refund.

  19. mewyn dyner says:

    As a word of warning and advice to any of you who have eaten from some of the possibly contaminated containers, keep yourselves under observation or better yet, go see a doctor. Salmonella has an 8-48 hour incubation period (although sometimes it can be a bit longer). I just don’t want to see anyone thinking they got off scott free, and then coming down with the disease.

  20. mfergel says:

    @mewyn dyner:

    Well, seeing as how I’ve been eating that jar over a period of several months, I’d say I’ve gone beyond the incubation period.

  21. John Stracke says:

    I wonder how many kids are going to get into the garbage and get sick now?

    What, you’d otherwise expect eating garbage to be good for them?

  22. Jess A. says:

    ConAgra’s website advises returning your jar to the retail location where it… as the refund method of first resort.

    And yeah, when I took my open jar back to Kroger, I was given cash back in under 3 minutes, no questions asked (and no ID shown).

  23. FLConsumer says:

    Just imagine how many poorly-packaged, unwashed, contaminated peanut butter lids are going to be squishing their way through the mail system over the next month or so… Might not be a bad idea to wash your hands after handling the mail…

  24. Kat says:

    Any Such Name: Actually, there is now an “alleged peanut butter death.”

    Wal-Mart sucks… if a product is recalled, then you should definitely not have to have a receipt.

  25. Youthier says:

    The driver’s license is used for returns without a receipt. They do this to keep track of how often you return things without a receipt, to cut down on stealing and returning for cash.

    That said, you would think they could suspend that for peanut butter.

  26. dwarf74 says:

    I love reading that blog… Been reading it on and off ever since the first time I saw a link to it.

    Sometimes, the author gets repetitive, but overall it’s awesome. It enumerates the reasons I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. Thank goodness we have a Meijer in town now…

  27. TedSez says:

    You guys think kids never get into things they shouldn’t and eat things they shouldn’t? You think out of thousands of open jars of peanut butter, none will end up being left where kids can find them? My point is that an open jar is more dangerous than a closed one. WalMart’s policy actually increases the possibility that some kids will eat the peanut butter and get sick.

  28. clarity says:

    I wonder what the Feds would say about this? While recalls are “voluntary” how they are conducted are somewhat reglated. It would be interesting to find out if requiring ID is permitted. Returns ARE NOT the same as recalls, even if they seem to be the same process to the service desk clerk.

  29. miketurk says:

    At my (grocery) chain, we’ve been doing what we’ve always done with any return. No receipt, no problem. We give them their money or store credit no questions asked. Over $5 without a receipt goes on a gift card as a matter of policy, but in this case we’ve suspended that policy and have been issuing cash refunds. In addition, this now-recalled peanut butter was BOGO last week, so even though about half of what’s come back was sold for free, we’re still giving them full price for it.

    In fact, I’ve had many customers over the last couple of days tell me that Wal*Mart is telling them to bring the peanut butter to us because we’ll take it back. They have said the same about our local Winn Dixies.

  30. bk says:

    Awesome.. turns out I’ve eaten a jar and a half of the 2111 lot in the past couple weeks.

  31. BlackBirdTA says:

    I had two big jars of the Peter Pan pb – one crunchy & one creamy – both almost all eaten. When I heard about the recall, I just threw them out. It’s not worth it to me to stand in line at Wal-Mart for a few dollars back.

  32. Hexum2600 says:

    I called my ex who eats Peter Pan and asked her to check her stuff. SHe had this enormous thing of it that started with 2111…. i told her to pitch it, she started to argue and I told her I’d just replace it for her.

    Why is it some people think “if i havn’t gotten sick from it yet, I won’t”? I hope that to everyone who thinks like that that they eat it all the way down and the contaminated part is all the way at the bottom.