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Food Sunday: Food Safety Cuts an Expensive Form of ‘Saving’

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It’s happening again, the peanut butter recalls.  This time it’s limited, but the losses to peanut growers are immense.   When buyers find out they can’t trust a product, they can choose another.   It’s particularly true of children’s products, as mothers will be ‘twice shy’ once they’ve been burned.

Skippy buys from peanut farmer/producers who will now be faced with a big loss from their original projected profits.   Prices take a long time to recover, because the products are treated with distrust for some time into the future.

Unilever and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced a limited recall of Skippy Reduced Fat Peanut Butter because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Fortunately, unlike previous peanut butter recalls, this peanut butter recall only includes a few products. Specifically, this limited recall only affects Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread sold in 16.3 oz plastic jars with:

  • UPCs: 048001006812 and 048001006782
  • Best-If-Used-By Dates: MAY1612LR1, MAY1712LR1, MAY1812LR1, MAY1912LR1, MAY2012LR1 and MAY2112LR1

The UPC number is located on the side of the jar’s label below the bar code and the Best-If-Used-By Date is stamped on the lid of the jar. The recalled Skippy peanut butter was sold in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

When the recent last peanut product recall occurred, it was traced with painful slowness back to plants that had not been inspected.   The plant in Texas was not even on a list of processors kept by the state’s inspectors.

On February 12, Texas health officials ordered an unprecedented recall of all products ever shipped from the Texas plant since it opened in 2005, after discovering that the plant’s air handling system was drawing in debris from a crawl space containing “dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers” into production areas.[15][59] State health officials said they issued the sweeping recall because they did not know how long the unsanitary conditions had existed at the plant.[60]

The plant had been certified for organic production in November 2005, based on what state officials later called incomplete information obtained by an inspector with the state Department of Agriculture.[61] However, the company failed to apply for a Texas health certificate, which would have triggered a visit by state inspectors.[62] State health officials weren’t aware the plant existed until the company released a list of its plants around the country.[63]

The lack of food safety inspectors which began early in 2001 was the direct result of the incoming administration’s emphasis on compliance rather than enforcement.   In a zealous determination to make the country friendly to business, the Bush White House sought to end department functions and replace them with voluntary compliance.   The costs saved were not passed on to consumers, of course, or to employees, but were accumulated by business headquarters that rewarded themselves with executive bonuses and benefits.

Food growers have experienced huge losses because of the consequent outbreaks of food poisoning.  Even those not involved suffer losses, as was revealed when Florida tomato growers couldn’t afford to pick their crop although actual salad contamination was later traced to jalapeno peppers.

The food safety program was gutted in 2001, and under present circumstances stands little chance of revival in the near future.   Our food supplies ‘ problems have influenced many of us to rely on our own gardening as much as possible, and to make a greater part of what we consume here in our own kitchens.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.