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Largest organic peanut-butter plant ordered closed

Published: November 26, 2012
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Source: Ap

The Food and Drug Administration halted operations of the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor Monday, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with the new enforcement authority the agency gained in a 2011 food safety law.

FDA officials found salmonella all over Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant after 41 people in 20 states, most of them children, were sickened by peanut butter manufactured at the Sunland plant and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery chain. The FDA suspended Sunland’s registration Monday, preventing the company from producing or distributing any food.

The food safety law gave the FDA authority to suspend a company’s registration when food manufactured or held there has a “reasonable probability” of causing serious health problems or death. Before the food safety law was enacted early last year, the FDA would have had to go to court to suspend a company’s registration.

Sunland had planned to reopen its peanut processing facility on Tuesday and a spokeswoman said before the FDA’s announcement Monday that the company hoped to be selling peanut butter again by the end of the year. The spokeswoman didn’t have immediate comment on the suspension.

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