The Peanut Corporation of America plant in Georgia has finally been closed. Within its less than pristine walls, salmonella invaded the plant's industrial peanut paste, and then turned up in over 125 products, making 500 people ill across the country, and, apparently, contributing to the deaths of seven people.
According to a piece in the NYT by Roni Caryn Rabin, "The processing plant in Georgia that produced peanut butter tainted by salmonella has a history of sanitation lapses and was cited repeatedly in 2006 and 2007 for having dirty surfaces and walls and grease residue and dirt build-up throughout the plant, according to state health inspection reports.
Inspections of the plant in Blakely, Ga., by the state agriculture department found areas of rust that could flake into food, gaps in warehouse doors large enough for rodents to get through, unmarked spray bottles and containers, and numerous violations of other practices designed to prevent food contamination."
The state does its inspections for the FDA, a government entity that did not act on these reports, nor on other writeups done in 2008. The corporate legumes responsible--Peanut Corp is based in Lynchburg, VA, ---clearly were not into self-regulation, that glorious cornerstone of free enterprise. Nor were they available to the Times for comment.
PC's website still proclaims: "Processor of the World's Finest Peanut Products." OY.
ps I love peanuts, peanut butter, and last month ate an incredible piece of chocolate cake glazed with peanut frosting. Superb. Yum. Either my tum is made of steel, or the peanut product involved did not originate in Blakely.
UPDATE, Jan. 27 The aforesaid Peanut Corp apparently shipped scungy peanut material knowingly, according to this report in the WaPost.