Last April, months before the first signs of the salmonella outbreak appeared in the United States, peanuts exported to Canada were found to be tainted. The shipment was refused by a Canadian distributor because "the peanuts had metal fragments in them," Sundlof said.
The products were then returned to the United States and destroyed in November after the FDA rejected as "unacceptable" findings by a private lab hired by Peanut Corp. to analyze the product, Sundlof said.
The criminal investigation also follows disclosure by FDA officials last week that, from 2007 into 2008, the company shipped peanut butter that it knew had been contaminated with salmonella.
Inspection reports from FDA investigators at the plant two weeks ago cited a litany of safety and sanitation problems and a trail of products that were sent out after being retested to clear the salmonella contaminants.
The current outbreak prompted U.S. health officials to announce a startling nationwide recall late Wednesday for all peanut products made over the last two years at the Georgia plant.
The recall involves all whole peanuts, granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter, and peanut paste.
At this point, the only safe peanut butter is apparently in name-brand jars on store shelves.
And in Canada, CanWest reports, 30 more peanut products were recalled over the weekend, including mostly ice cream cones and peanut, caramel and protein bars manufactured by firms in Mississauga, Ont., and one U. S. company.
Although no illnesses have been reported, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the products were sold nationally.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site lists all the recalled
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