Food Safety

Is nut butter recall a sign of an endemic problem at FDA?

CDC Salmonella
Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney, by State on 24 September 2012. Source: CDC.

A total of 35 people from 19 states have been infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney, which has been attributed to peanut butter and other products containing nuts and seeds from Sunland, Inc., according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Four individuals have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

Sunland issued a voluntary recall of its almond butter and peanut butter on September 24, and the recall has been expanded to include cashew butter, tahini and roasted blanched peanut products. The recall is limited to products manufactured between May 1, 2012 and September 24, 2012.

Caroline Smith DeWall, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) blames the FDA for its lethargy in fulfilling  FSMA’s deadlines for issuing rules and regulations to reduce the toll of foodborne illness.

The deadlines that have been missed, according to Smith DeWall, are:

  • On January 4, 2012, the deadline for a rule telling retailers how best to alert consumers to recalls in supermarkets
  • On July 4, 2012, the deadline to issue rules requiring preventive controls and food safety plans at manufacturing facilities
  • Also July 4, the deadline for publishing a “how to” guide for retailers to quickly print pertinent recall information for posting at their supermarkets.

“Deadline after deadline has come and gone with the agency taking no action, leaving consumers vulnerable and industry without guidance. Peanut butter and other foods are no safer than they were at the beginning of the President’s term,” says Smith DeWall.

According to David Plunkett, CSPI senior staff attorney, food safety, putting a rule and/or guidance out for retailers to follow should not be a big issue for FDA. Many retailers would like a set of standard procedures, guidelines and a form for posting a sign or notice in their stores. Some retailers already have customer loyalty cards, and this information can be used not only for advertising but also letting customers know when there is a recall by using the associated contact information contained in their accounts, according to Plunkett.

Costco members already have this feature built into their membership cards. When an FDA recall goes out, customers who purchased recalled products are notified within hours by automated phone calls. In addition, should a Costco member try to purchase a recalled product that hasn’t yet been pulled off the shelf, the product will be flagged by the system at checkout, disallowing the customer to take the product home.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.