FDA Shutters Nation's Largest Organic Peanut Butter Manufacturer


Citing a salmonella outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration pulled the plug today on the nation's largest organic peanut butter processor, Sunland Inc. in New Mexico. The FDA said the outbreak sickened at least 41 people in 20 states and was linked to peanut butter manufactured at the Sunland plant, sold through the Trader Joe's grocery chain.

As of Monday, Sunland was ordered not to produce or distribute any food from its facility.

Sunland began pulling hundreds of its products, made from organic and non-organic nuts, after Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter was linked to the salmonella illnesses in September. In addition to Trader Joe's, Sunland sold hundreds of different peanut products to many of the nation's large grocery chains, including Whole Foods and Target.

In a statement earlier this month, Sunland officials denied that they knowingly shipped tainted products.

“At no time in its 24-year history has Sunland Inc. released for distribution any products that it knew to be potentially contaminated with harmful microorganisms,” Sunland president and CEO Jimmie Shearer said in a statement on the company's website. “In every instance where test results indicated the presence of a contaminant, the implicated product was destroyed and not released for distribution.”