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Salmonella Outbreak Plant Shipped Dubious Product Before: U.S. Health Officials
Date:1/27/2009

FDA and CDC officials say company distributed 'adulterated' peanut butter products in 2007 and 2008

TUESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The Georgia facility that produced the peanut butter and peanut paste involved in the salmonella outbreak had in the past distributed questionable peanut butter product, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

In 2007 and 2008, Peanut Corporation of America, which owns the now-closed Blakely, Ga., plant, shipped peanut butter that it knew had been contaminated with salmonella, according to key officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The FDA team identified 12 instances where the firm, as part of its own internal testing program, identified some type of salmonella and released a product after it was retested," Michael Rogers, director of FDA's division of field investigations in the Office of Regional Operations, said during a late afternoon teleconference.

While there were no reports of illness as a result of that distribution, "salmonella shouldn't be there," Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said during the teleconference. "It had an adverse effect on the quality of the product, making it adulterated."

"This was clearly a violation of 'good manufacturing practice standards.' This is a practice that the firm should not have engaged in," Sundlof added. "That is a violation of law."

The officials also said that four strains of salmonella have been linked to the Georgia plant in the current outbreak.

But only one strain, salmonella Typhimurium, was to blame for the contamination that has sickened more than 500 people and possibly contributed to eight deaths.

Salmonella Typhimurium was found in tubs of peanut butter in Minnesota and Connecticut and in peanut butter crackers in Canada, according to Dr. Robert
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