Salmonella found in roaster, cleaning supplies at ConAgra - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Salmonella found in roaster, cleaning supplies at ConAgra

March 22, 2007

Sylvester-  FDA investigators finally have some details on the location of that Salmonella outbreak that shut down the Sylvester ConAgra Foods plant five weeks ago. Thursday, ConAgra Foods blamed a $48 million loss this quarter on its recall of Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter and there's still no timetable of when production will start back.

It's been five weeks since the lines at ConAgra Foods looked like this and it could be the end of May before production resumes. The clean up can begin now that the FDA has pin-pointed the cause.

"The two environmental positives that we did find were, one of them was in relation to the roaster and the other was on some cleaning equipment," said Dr. David Acheson.

Because it was found twice in the environment, the FDA investigators assume it's other places and recommend a complete cleanup. ConAgra is working with microbiologist on a plan to resume operations, but doesn't have an exact date.

"It's taking a look at how do we start up production? How do we get back up to inventory necessary to meet customer demand and bring it back to the shelves in a timely fashion?" questioned Stephanie Childs, ConAgra Spokeswoman.

While the company won't release specific answers to those questions they say employees continue the clean up effort.

"They are working on non-production related projects such as cleaning up, maintenance, training to ensure we are working in the best way possible," said Childs.

"The precise way to clean up is up to them to decide what the recommendation we make is pretty general and that is that the company needs to do a through clean up to ensure the absence of Salmonella in any future product that's produced in the facility, said Acheson.

FDA inspectors are gone from the plant now, but will return once the cleanup is complete to make sure there are no future problems.

The Centers for Disease Control stopped updating the number of reported Salmonella cases last week. The CDC reported 425 people in 44 states were sickened by the peanut butter. Twenty percent of those illnesses were serious enough to require hospitalization.

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