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Start Date for Peanut Butter Recall Moved Back to 2010

The peanut butter recall intended to extinguish an multistate outbreak of a rare strain Salmonella continues to evolve.

Sunland Inc. Thursday extended its list of recalled products to include all that were manufactured in the Portales, NM peanut butter plant after March 1, 2010 for possible health risks.

In addition to covering most of the nation’s major retail grocery stores, Sunland Inc.’s recall of peanut and other nut butters now also includes the federal government’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Recalled products were distributed in New Mexico under the Commodity program in September, but were removed before October’s distribution.

Still Sunland says it is getting ready to restart its nut processing plant while the nationwide recall continues.

In a notice to customers, Jimmie Shearer, Sunland’s president and chief executive officer, said peanut shelling and processing have continued without interruption and it is receiving new crop peanuts on a daily basis.

Shearer said the company will restart plant operations “consistent with our designation as a Safe Quality Food Level 3 (SQF Level 3) facility.” A startup date has not been announced.

Sunland has expanded the recall – which now includes cashew butters, tahini and blanched and roasted peanut products – three times.

More than 100 products are now on the Sunland recall list, including some that are included as ingredients in the products of others. Those have added to the list of so-called “secondary” recalls.

The first Sunland product to be recalled was Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, which was linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney – a rare strain of the bacteria. The outbreak involved 30 people in 19 states. Two-thirds of the victims were children.

Other U.S. retailers who have now had to pull Valencia peanut butter with roasted flaxseeds and almond butter with roasted flaxseeds include Target, Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, Fresh and Easy and Giant Foods among others.

Brand names include: Archer Farms; Natural Value; Joseph’s; Naturally More;  Open Nature; Peanut Power Butter;  Serious Food, Silly Prices; Sprout’s; Sunland; Trader Joe’s and others.

Recalled products have Best-if-Used-By dates of between May 1, 2013 and September 24, 2013.

In another sign of a maturing outbreak, the first victims lawsuits linked to this strain of Salmonella are being filed.

A Massachusetts mother and her 4-year-old son Thursday sued Sunland Inc. and Trader Joe’s in Worcester County Superior Count.

Brandi Henson and her son are represented in their lawsuit against the manufacturer and the retailer by Marler Clark, the food safety law firm that also underwrites Food Safety News.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Henson purchased Valencia peanut butter on multiple occasions between May and July.

Her child, who regularly ate peanut butter on sandwiches and other items, became ill with nausea, cramps, and diarrhea — all symptoms of Salmonella infection — on July 31, 2012.

According to the complaint, the child required two visits to the pediatrician. A stool sample submitted during one of his visits later tested positive for Salmonella Bredeney, the rare strain of Salmonella that public health officials have shown is associated with the consumption of peanut butter made by Sunland.

“My client was feeding her family what she believed was a safe product,” said Bill Marler, attorney for the Henson family and publisher of Food Safety News. “It’s a shame that a staple of nearly every American kid’s diet is once again causing illness. More needs to be done to protect our children from Salmonella.”

Some of the secondary recalls of products using Sunland products as ingredients include:

• The Whole Foods Market at 2955 Kirby Drive in Houston recalled its chicken spring rolls and peanut sesame noodles due to possible Salmonella contamination from peanut ingredients. The springs rolls had a sell by date of 10/1 and 10/2, while the noodles had a sold on or sell by date beginning 9/27 and ending 10/2.

• Xan Confections recalled 13 gourmet peanut butter chocolate products because they include Sunland ingredients. The products were distributed from May 28 through Sept. 28, 2012 at retail locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Nova Scotia, Canada and also through orders taken online. Product details can be found here.

• Gretchen’s Shoebox Express recalled expired protein Bistro Boxes that used Justin’s Nut Butter. The recall includes Protein Bistro Boxes made under the Starbucks brand and Honey Peanut Butter Blend by Justin’s. More details here.

© Food Safety News
  • There have been enough serious problems with peanut butter and nut products that I think the FDA needs to develop a specialized plan to ensure safer nut-based products. 

    It’s not so much the material bought directly, as it’s also heavily used in secondary products. Look how extensive this recall is becoming? 

    This also means more people sick, more lives disrupted, more cost to investigate the sickness…we can’t keep doing this. 

  • Carlo Silvestri

    I assume that Sunland has done a thorough sanitation of their plant and all of the processing and transportation equipment used for the peanuts and whatever else they’ve been manufacturing to ensure that they are clean?  It would be totally irresponsible for them to start up without doing so and at SQF level 3 none the less?  I would hope that they brought in a third part to vet the plant and the equipment.  After the PCA fiasco, this does not bode well for the peanut industry.  How can consumers have faith in the cleanliness of processed peanuts?

  • Sensiblesafeguards

    The extension of the peanut butter recall back to 2010 underscores
    the importance of having food safety regulations in place, so things like this
    don’t happen. As a majority of those affected by the contaminated peanut butter
    were children, it is crucial to set up a system of protections that prevent
    further harm to those who are most vulnerable.

    The public also needs to speak out against efforts to limit food
    inspection. A new poultry rule proposed by the USDA, for instance, would
    increase inspection speeds to 175 birds per minute, giving inspectors 1/3 of a
    second to examine each chicken for contamination. Find out more at our resource
    center here: http://www.sensiblesafeguards.org/poultry-rule-information-center

    Consumers must be protected from foodborne illnesses by safeguards
    that can catch contaminated products before they leave the factory. This task
    cannot be left to the food manufacturers just as financial regulation cannot be
    left up to Wall Street. Industry will look out for its own interests; we need policy-makers
    to look out for the public’s interest.


  • Peter Cocotas

    FDA inspected Sunland in 2010 and 2011