On March 23, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Irvington, N.J.-based Westco Fruit and Nut Co., Inc. (Westco/Westcott) to voluntarily recall all of its products containing peanuts from PCA because of the contamination threat. Westco/Westcott refused. On April 8, 2009, the FDA served Westco/Westcott with an inspection warrant in an attempt to gain access to the company’s distribution records.
On April 27, 2009, at the request of the FDA, U.S. Marshals seized $34,500 worth of PCA peanuts and products containing PCA peanuts at Westco/Westcott because of possible Salmonella contamination.
Peanut Corporation of America Provides Further Information Regarding Recalled Products
FDA has evidence to support classifying the recall of product distributed from the PCA Plainview, Texas facility from January 1, 2007 forward as a Class 1 recall. This determination was based upon inspectional findings, epidemiological data, internal test results from PCA that are positive for salmonella, test results from consumer samples that match the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, and FDA positive samples of finished product (post-processed peanut meal collected at the PCA Texas facility) that match the outbreak strain. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) also collected a sample of peanut meal from the same lot collected by FDA at the PCA Texas facility, and has detected the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.
On February 20, PCA issued a statement indicating it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that it was no longer able to communicate with customers regarding recalled products. As a result, FDA and officials from the State of Texas DSHS are now coordinating their efforts to notify companies that received product from PCA’s Plainview, TX facility from January 1, 2007 forward.
PCA suspended operation of its Plainview, TX facility on February 10 at the request of the Texas DSHS, after several conditions that posed human health risk were discovered. On February 12, the State of Texas issued an emergency order directing PCA to cease the manufacture and distribution of all food products at the facility and issued a mandatory recall order requiring PCA to recall all products manufactured at the plant.
Unlike the PCA plant in Blakely, Georgia, which principally manufactured peanut butter and peanut paste, the PCA Texas facility principally blanched, split, granulated and roasted peanuts for distribution to various businesses. The Texas facility's activities included the production and distribution of peanut meal, a byproduct of the peanut granulation process used to make peanut butter and peanut paste. The Texas DSHS is currently notifying all first-level customers of PCA Texas products from January 1, 2007 forward that all products are subject to recall. FDA will audit 100 percent of those PCA customers to facilitate the removal of product from the marketplace.
This is an ingredient-driven outbreak; that is, potentially contaminated ingredients affected many different products that were distributed through various channels and consumed in various settings. The recalled products made by PCA, such as peanut butter and peanut paste, are common ingredients in cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, pet treats, and other foods. Consumers are advised to discard and not eat products that have been recalled. To help consumers identify affected products, FDA has initiated a searchable database of recalled products that is updated daily or as additional recalls are identified. To date, more than 2,100 products in 17 categories have been voluntarily recalled by more than 200 companies, and the list continues to grow.
In January, the recall list was expanded to include some pet-food products that contain peanut paste made by PCA. Salmonella can affect animals, and humans who handle contaminated pet-food products also are at risk. It is important for people to wash their hands – and to make sure children wash their hands – with hot water and soap before and, especially, after handling pet-food products and utensils. More information for consumers is available in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this web site. The recalled pet food products are also included in the searchable database of recalled products.
The large number of products and brands recalled already, and the large quantities of some products recalled, makes this one of the largest food recalls ever in the United States.