Food Bank destroys potentially contaminated food

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Possible salmonella contamination has been found at another peanut processing plant, and now that plant in Plainview, Texas is shut down.

That plant is owned by Peanut Corporation of America, which also owns the Blakely plant at the center of a nationwide salmonella outbreak.

And the recall continues to grow with more than 1,800 products now on the list.

The Food Bank of Southwest Georgia gets three or four recalls a day from their parent company Feeding America. At the Albany location they've had to destroy as much as 300 pounds of peanut butter products that were on the list.

A pallet load of Austin's peanut butter crackers is driven from the warehouse at the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia to the dumpster. One by one volunteers unwrap each pack, destroying the product.

"It has to be disposed of and taken out of its original package so it removes the threat of someone coming into our dumpster and getting the product," said Food Bank President Brett Kirkland.

The Food Bank has destroyed about 300 pounds of peanut butter products, but, as is the case at many businesses, some of the food was distributed before it was recalled and has now likely been consumed.

"Roasted peanuts through USDA came out over a year ago that's already been distributed, that was a recall, but we didn't have any more of the inventory," said Kirkland.

As far as the Food Bank knows no one was sickened by those products. Sales figures show the recall has left jars of peanut butter off shoppers lists. In the last four weeks jarred sales dropped 22 percent and mothers understand why.

"Especially when you have small children that it will affect a lot more than an adult," said Connie Thomas.

Much like yesterday when the FBI and FDA investigators carried boxes and briefcases to and from the plant, more paperwork was shuffled in and out of the plant today.

The Texas plant that produces peanut meal, granulated peanuts, and dry roasted peanuts has also suspended operations as the FDA investigates procedures and food safety records at that plant. At the Food Bank, workers say they'll stay vigilant to make sure they're keeping up with the recalls and keeping the products they distribute safe.

"We don't want to give anybody, it doesn't matter how much need they are, we don't want to give anybody something we wouldn't put on our own table so as painful as it is it's the right thing to do," said Kirkland.

While the criminal investigation at the Blakely plant continues, in Federal Court in Albany three more civil suits have been filed against Peanut Corporation of America bringing the total number of lawsuits to four. None of the lawsuits are Georgia residents and three of the cases involve children.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted late this afternoon to compel Peanut Corporation of America president Stewart Parnell to appeal at their hearing tomorrow into the Salmonella outbreak and gaps in the nation's food safety system.