Inspectors find mildew in tainted peanut butter plant
Tuesday, January 27th 2009, 10:32 AM
Inspectors found mildew on a ceiling and other problems during inspections last year at a peanut butter producing plant in Georgia that has been linked to a salmonella outbreak, according to reports released Monday by
the state Department of Agriculture.
But the owner of the Blakely, Georgia, plant -- Virginia-based Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) -- described the problems as ''relatively minor and for the most part corrected on site.''
The Blakely plant stopped production earlier this month and PCA launched a nationwide recall of peanut butter and peanut paste made at the plant after July 1, 2008.
The New York Times reported Monday that Georgia agriculture inspection reports from 2006 and 2007 depicted a series of sanitation lapses in the Blakely plant.
Citing an inspection report from Aug. 23, 2007, the Times noted at least three incidences in which ''food-contact surfaces'' were ''not properly cleaned and sanitized.''
In an apparent response to the Times article, PCA released a statement saying, ''When the observations were noted during inspections by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, corrective action was taken immediately where
possible and subsequently when immediate action was not possible.''
The statement, which PCA sent to CNN accompanied by a copy of a state inspection report from last October, continued that ''The most recent inspection observations by the state (the October inspection report) were relatively minor and for the most part corrected on site.''
In the October 23, 2008 report, an inspector said she found ''mildew and possibly some static dust on ceiling of butter storage room.'' The report did not specify the amount of mildew.
The report continued with the notation, ''Correct By: 11/05/2008,'' but the report did not indicate whether any action was taken or whether there was a follow-up inspection.
Moisture was blamed for an unrelated salmonella outbreak two years ago traced to another Georgia peanut processing plant.
An inspection of PCA's Blakely plant, in June 2008, found violations including dust buildup on a fan in the butter room, and ''possible metal flakes from metal scrubber which is used to clean outside of equipment,'' according to
an inspection report. The report did not indicate where the flakes were found.
PCA has emphasized in its news releases that the peanut butter and peanut paste made at the Blakely plant were sold in bulk to manufacturers, and that the recall does not involve any packaged peanut butter sold directly to
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted nearly 500 cases of salmonella illnesses in 43 states from the most recent outbreak, and says the bacterial infection might have contributed to seven