Entries in Peanuts (6)


FDA Closes Peanut Butter Plant Linked to Salmonella

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration Monday shut down the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor following a salmonella outbreak that sickened scores of people nationwide.

For the first time the FDA has utilized new power granted by the 2011 food safety law and shut down Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant.

In a statement on their website, the FDA said that the link between the company and the salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states along with “Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration.”

Between June 2000 and September 2012 11 product lots of nut butter tested positive for presence of salmonella. And, according to the FDA, between March 2010 and September 2012, Sunland Inc. distributed at least a portion of eight product lots after they had tested positive.

The FDA also found the presence of salmonella in 28 environmental samples during a September and October 2012 inspection.  FDA inspectors reported that employees of Sunland Inc. failed to wash hands, improperly handled equipment used to process food as well as providing "no records” to document cleaning of equipment. Additionally, the building housing the production and packaging had no hand-washing sinks even though employees had “bare-handed contact” with the product.

“The super-sized bags used by the firm to store peanuts were not cleaned despite being used for both raw and roasted peanuts.  There was a leaking sink in a washroom which resulted in water accumulating on the floor, and the plant is not built to allow floors, walls and ceilings to be adequately cleaned."

"Finally, investigators found that raw materials were exposed to potential contamination.  Raw, in-shell peanuts were found outside the plant in uncovered trailers. Birds were observed landing in the trailers and the peanuts were exposed to rain, which provides a growth environment for salmonella and other bacteria.  Inside the warehouse, facility doors were open to the outside, which could allow pests to enter.”

In a Nov. 15 statement the president and CEO of Sunland, Jimmie Shearer, emphasized that at “no time” did the company distribute products they knew to be contaminated. The company has submitted a statement to the FDA outlining their response to the recall and contaminated product testing.

“We believe that drawing any inferences much less conclusions about the Company’s practices based solely on the observations as set forth in the Form 483 without considering the Company’s response would be wholly premature and unduly prejudicial to Sunland.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which the FDA acted under to shut down the plant, grants the agency the authority to suspend manufacturing when there is “reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met.”

Sunland Inc., can request an informal hearing to lift the suspension.  However the 24-year-old company will only have its registration returned after the FDA decides the company has safe manufacturing practices.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC News Uncovers Reports of Contamination at Peanut Plant

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned new information about the peanut supplier linked to the salmonella outbreak this fall that sickened 41 people in 20 states.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request made by ABC News, the Food and Drug Administration granted access to inspection reports on Sunland Inc. for the past few years. Findings include reports salmonella found in peanuts that the company failed to detect on its own, in-shell peanuts exposed to elements and moisture, and the presents of giant birds flocking over peanut stocks.

The Portales, New Mexico-based plant has been plagued with many more problems, according to the reports. One instance stated that an FDA agent observed an employee in one of the assembly lines cleaning equipment with nothing more than water, while another report detailed the sight of bird droppings on peanuts, and in the company’s almond butter product.

In the reports that date back as far as 2003, one inspection also discovered that "the firm's plumbing constitutes a source of contamination to food... effective measures were not being taken to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests... the firm failed to provide adequate screening or other protection against pests.... the firm failed to hold rework materials in bulk or in suitable containers so as to protect against contamination."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Way to Stave off Peanut Allergies by Tricking Body

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- If you're one of the many Americans who suffer from peanut allergies, relief may be on the way.

Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered a way to trick the immune system into thinking peanut proteins don't pose a threat to the body.

By attaching the proteins onto white blood cells and putting them back into the body, they found they could eliminate the allergic response to the nut.  The researchers proved this in mice, who after two treatments were fed a peanut extract and had no life-threatening allergic reaction.

“Their immune system saw the peanut protein as perfectly normal because it was already presented on the white blood cells,” said Paul Bryce, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  “Without the treatment, these animals would have gone into anaphylactic shock.”

Bryce, one of the co-authors of the study published in the Journal of Immunology, thinks this approach may be able to target multiple food allergies at once, since its possible more than one protein could be attached to the cells.

“This is an exciting new way in which we can regulate specific allergic diseases and may eventually be used in a clinical setting for patients,” said Stephen Miller, professor of microbiology-immunology at Feinberg and co-author of the study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nearly Six Million Kids Have Food Allergies

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Close to six million children in the U.S. suffer from food allergies, according to a new study published Monday in Pediatrics.

Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine collected data from over 38,000 children in the country and found that 8 percent of them had food allergies.  The most common allergy was to peanuts, followed by milk and shellfish.

A third of the children surveyed were also found to have multiple food allergies.

Futhermore, researchers found that kids who are black or Asian or come from higher income families have a greater chance of being allergic to some type of food.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pregnancy and Peanuts: Tricky Allergy Truths 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Prenatal advice has been particularly tricky with respect to peanut allergy, a potentially fatal condition that affects an estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of children. The incidence has gone up in the last decade, although scientists can't say why.

From 1998 to 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the British Committee on Toxicology recommended that in families where parents or siblings have allergies, women avoid peanuts during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, the data for these recommendations was scant and scientific studies yielded conflicting findings: Some said early exposure might be protective, others, harmful.

In 2008, the AAP reversed its position. Similarly, the European panel reversed its recommendation to stay away from peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It now appears that in families with lots of allergies, it makes some sense for mothers-to-be to go easy on the peanuts, because of new research suggesting heavy consumption, particularly late in pregnancy, might set the stage for peanut allergies.

But for most families, doctors say there's no evidence that pregnant moms' peanut eating will produce an allergic baby -- or that avoiding peanuts will guarantee a healthier one.

To help clarify the issues, the Consortium of Food Allergy Research studied the relationship between maternal diet and childhood allergies. The researchers, led by Dr. Scott H. Sicherer of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, followed 512 infants with food allergies to see if they became allergic to peanuts over time.

The investigators from Mount Sinai, Duke University in Durham, N.C., Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, National Jewish Health in Denver, and Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, also asked the mothers about their prenatal eating.

In results published online Oct. 29 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which will appear in the December print issue, they reported that the more that a mom consumed peanuts in the third trimester of her pregnancy, the greater the chances her infant would test positive for sensitivity to peanuts.

However, sensitivity doesn't equate to peanut allergy, "just an increased risk," Sicherer said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Eating Peanuts During Pregnancy May Expose Children to Allergy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Pregnant mothers who eat a lot of peanuts during their pregnancy may increase their childrens' risk of developing an allergy to the nut, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Headed by New York's Mount Sinai Medical School, the study tested more than 500 infants and found that more than a quarter of them, who were children of women who consumed peanuts while pregnant, had a strong reaction to a peanut sensitivity test.

Researchers also found that infants from mothers who ate the nut during their pregnancy have nearly three times the chance of testing positive for the allergy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio