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FDA Shuts Down Sunland Peanut Butter Plant for Repeat Violations

By Admin on November 28, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

More bad news for peanut butter fans: The FDA has shut down Sunland Inc.'s peanut butter plant after multiple violations of health and safety codes.

The plant was one of the largest organic peanut butter factories in the country, and produced nut butter for Trader Joe's. The company was at the center of a salmonella outbreak in September, and on Monday the Food and Drug Administration suspended its registration.

It wasn't just the salmonella outbreak that led the FDA to pull the plug on the peanut butter operation. Inspections of the plant led officials to conclude that the facility was potentially producing unsafe food.

FDA inspectors found 11 lots of peanut butter had tested positive for salmonella over the last 10 years at Sunland. Eight of those lots were distributed after testing positive, reports ABC News.

On a recent inspection, they also found inadequate hand-washing stations, improper storage for raw peanuts, and substandard cleaning records. The multitude of violations as well as the history of contamination led the FDA to order the plant be shut down.

It's only recently that the FDA has been given the power to shut down a plant that doesn't comply with federal health and safety standards. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act gave the agency the power to close plants that have a reasonable probability of causing adverse health consequences.

Like in other administrative processes, Sunland has the opportunity to ask for a hearing to lift the suspension. The company would have to show the plant is complying with manufacturing requirements and that its practices are safe.

Even if a plant isn't unsafe enough to be shut down, it still may have some issues that could affect customers' health.

If you've become sick from food that should be safe, talk to an attorney about what you can do. It won't undo what happened but it will help you recover financially.

Sunland disputes the FDA's allegation that the company distributed contaminated products, according to a statement earlier this month. Sunland still has the option to challenge the suspension.

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