ConAgra employees return to work, not making peanut butter - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ConAgra employees return to work, not making peanut butter

February 19, 2007

Sylvester-  Production lines at ConAgra Foods Peter Pan Peanut Butter plant in Sylvester remain shut down and Monday the company still doesn't know what may have contaminated the peanut butter with Salmonella.

There was good news Monday for workers at that plant who should be getting back to work this week, although it won't be producing peanut butter.

ConAgra Company officials had two meeting with employees Monday. They explained employees will be paid for their time off last week and most will return to work this week with other tasks.

It's another day without peanut butter at the ConAgra plant in Sylvester. The FDA's team of microbiologists and field investigators who collected raw ingredients and environmental and product samples last week are gone.

"The FDA inspectors I believe are no longer there and now we are looking to see what the results will be," said Stephanie Childs, ConAgra Spokeswoman.

Behind closed doors ConAgra employees met Monday at the Sylvester Police Station, they talked about what's been going on at the plant testing wise and when they might be able to go back to work.

"Maybe, we're hoping to, but I don't know what they're going to say," said Derrick, a ConAgra Forklift Operator.

We caught up with one employee before he went into the meeting, but company officials pulled him inside before we could ask many questions or find out his name. During the meeting employees were briefed about their duties while production is down.

"We're looking at maintenance projects, training programs, things like that, that can be accomplished, that need to be done now and we can focus on," said Childs.

ConAgra won't begin production again until they get the okay from the FDA, right now they have little idea when that might be.

"I don't have a specific timeline but we are committed to getting back into production as soon as we can," said Childs.

For now, workers are pleased to know they'll continue working, even if it isn't making peanut butter.

"Are you kind of anxious to get back to work?" "Yeah," said Derrick.

The FDA has not released any details to the company about what they've found in their testing, but the company spokeswoman assured us they're working closely with the FDA and will follow any recommendation the FDA may make when the results are in.

ConAgra's Sylvester plant is the only location that produces Peter Pan Peanut Butter. The peanut butter is shipped nationwide and to 68 countries that have been alerted of the recall. The plant employs more than 100 workers.

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