Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

FDA, what were the “objectionable conditions” found in the Sunland PB plant?

The FDA and Sunland should release the inspections and findings of 2009 and 2010.

The Sunland, Inc. peanut butter processing plant in Portales, New Mexico is the epicenter of the current and ongoing Salmonella Bredeney outbreak.

A total of 35 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney have been reported from 19 states. Eight ill persons have been hospitalized.  No deaths have been reported.

Recent FDA testing has found the presence of Salmonella Bredeney in raw peanuts from the Sunland peanut processing facility. Environmental samples taken from the building also show the presence of Salmonella Bredeney. Washington State investigators have also found Salmonella Bredeney from an opened jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter collected from a case-patient’s home.

According to FDA records, agency officials performed random routine inspections at Sunland in March 2009 and September 2010. Both times, the plant was rated “Voluntary Action Indicated,” meaning that inspectors found “objectionable conditions” not severe enough to merit regulatory action but which prompted the agency to issue voluntary corrective recommendations.

What these “objectionable conditions” were, exactly, remains unclear.

The outbreak and environmental findings prompted Sunland to recall hundreds of products containing peanut butter dating back as far as March 2010 and to suspend production.