FDA reports filthy conditions at peanut plant

Source of Article:  http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-lisalm0129,0,1109379.story

4:10 PM EST, January 28, 2009

Inspectors investigating the Georgia peanut-processing plant at the center of the nationwide salmonella outbreak found cockroaches, slimy residue on a conveyor belt and mold colonizing the plant's ceilings and walls, a federal report shows.

Blatant violations of food safety practices were evident throughout the Peanut Corporation for America's Blakely, Ga., plant, which shipped peanut butter to companies nationwide for ready-to-eat products.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors, at the plant over the course of 18 days, noted precautions to "protect food and food contact surfaces from contamination with microorganisms [could not] be taken because of deficiencies in plant construction and design."

For example, mops, used for scrubbing floors -- known to have salmonella in their cracks -- were washed in the same sinks as utensils used for making peanut butter.

Revelations at the plant led the American Peanut Council, the industry group that represents peanut processors nationwide, to distance itself from the family-owned PCA.

"The findings of the FDA report can only be seen as a clear and unconscionable action of one irresponsible manufacturer, which stands alone in an industry that strives to follow the most stringent food safety standards," said Patrick Archer, president of the council. "The American peanut industry's top priority is the health and safety of consumers."

Here are some of the discoveries made by FDA inspectors who checked the Peanut Corporation of America between January 9 and 27:

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