FDA Provides Glimpse at Actions Leading up to Sunland Shutdown

Posted on November 30, 2012

We’ve previously discussed how Sunland Inc., the company that distributed peanut butter that led to a Salmonella outbreak across the country, had its registration shut down by the Food and Drug Administration, essentially barring the company from production until alleged safety issues could be corrected.  The FDA now has an in-depth report on how the investigation began and how things got to this juncture.

The Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network learned of the danger in September.  Reports of illness were being made at inordinate rates, and since many of those ill persons were kids, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control quickly stepped in to analyze the threat with the help of various local health agencies.  These officials were able to deduce that Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter from Trader Joe’s was to blame for the estimated 41 illnesses.

Further investigation revealed that a Sunland plant in Portales, New Mexico was the only supplier of the contaminated peanut butter.  Numerous officials were sent to the scene, and it wasn’t long before hundreds of items were recalled.  Sampling showed a match for the Salmonella strain that led to the illnesses, and a history of violations were uncovered.  It all led up to the registration suspension a couple days ago, the first time the FDA has initiated such an action thanks to authority given to them under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

This provides a peek at how officials respond when an outbreak takes place.  Actions like this are necessary to protect consumers, and hopefully manufacturers can understand the fate that awaits them when their procedures compromise safety.

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