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FDA: Plant knowingly sold salmonella-laced food

February 6, 2009 6:34:35 PM PST
Federal health officials say the Georgia peanut plant at the center of the salmonella outbreak knowingly shipped tainted products.

Previously, the Food and Drug Administration had said Peanut Corp. of America retested products after getting an initial positive result for salmonella. The agency said the company shipped the goods after follow-up tests came back negative.

But today, the FDA said the company sent out peanut butter, chopped peanuts and peanut meal that had tested positive even before it got back any negative findings.

Peanut Corp. denies any wrongdoing. The government has opened a criminal investigation.

Also today, in Washington, the Food and Drug Administration says that in 2001, federal inspectors found that some of the equipment at the Peanut Corporation of America's Blakely, Georgia plant was exposed to insecticides.

In a report based on that visit nearly eight years ago, inspectors said that workers at the Peanut Corp. of America's plant used an insecticide fogger not suitable for food areas and didn't wash its equipment.

Food and Drug Administration inspectors also found dirty duct tape on broken equipment, dead insects around peanuts, and gaps in doors that allowed rodents to enter the plant.

Those findings in 2001 are similar to problems discovered last month after the company shipped salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut butter linked to at least eight deaths and 575 illnesses in 43 states.

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Latest Product Recalls

Meantime, there were more products recalled today.

Sears Holdings Corp. said today its Kmart stores were voluntarily recalling some Super Kmart bakery goods due to the risk of salmonella.

Sears said it learned some granulated peanut products supplied by Hickory Harvey Foods to Super Kmarts may have been made at a plant possibly contaminated by salmonella.

Kmart is not aware of any reports of illness linked to these products. The baked goods should not be eaten and can be returned for a full refund.

They include a single layer peanut butter cake, a single layer caramel apple cake, individual filled and variety doughnuts, individual regular doughnuts and "Mix or Match" 12-count doughnuts.

A salmonella outbreak blamed on the Peanut Corp. of America has sickened at least 575 people in 43 states. At least eight have died. More than 1,300 foods that used ingredients from the company's processing plant in Blakely, Georgia, have been recalled. While the outbreak appears to be slowing down, new illnesses are still being reported.

Salmonella is the nation's leading cause of food poisoning; common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

House of Spices (India) Inc. is recalling 30 lb. boxes of Laxmi Hot & Spicy Peanuts because they could be contaminated with salmonella. No illnesses have been reported, according to the company. The recalled products were distributed in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania and California. They were packed in 30 pound cardboard boxes with the item code: NUPEHLX1CS.

For details, you can call 718-507-4900.

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