Peanut butter recall has 'gone overboard,' Osterholm says
Osterholm stressed the severity of the outbreak and concerns about the nation's food supply, but companies took the recall too far. "I don't want to take away from the overall severity of the outbreak," he says. "Clearly this was a horrendous food safety disaster and the (product's producer) had no regard for the public's health."
Food and Drug Administration inspectors who examined the plant last month found holes in the roof and stains that showed water regularly got into areas where the company kept finished food. There was mold on walls and ceilings in food storage areas, and roaches were found in the washroom.
The building had holes where pests could come and go and a crack in the floor that tested positive for salmonella. Dirt and contamination appeared in many places, including a "slimy, black-brown residue" that suggested the company put little priority on cleaning.
The plant is even accused of finding products that tested positive for salmonella, but still sending the products out. Their peanut butter products weren't sold directly to consumers, but they were often redistributed and used as an ingredient in other finished products.
The GMA says PCA supplied less than 1% of peanut products sold in the U.S. Still, the FDA says the company has more than 300 customers, many of whom used PCA's products as an ingredient. "A pound of their product ends up in 100 pounds of other products," says John Sniffen of Orchard Valley Harvest, which last week recalled peanuts packed for Safeway.
So if this issue is so complicated, why does Osterholm think so many companies overreacted?
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