Friday, June 26, 2009


Keeping up with frightening food events in our food supply is getting quite exhausting. One of the most annoying aspects is that just as you think you can forget about one of the outbreaks, you realize it is still out there. And contaminated products might still be out there too, waiting for us, innocent consumers, to pounce on them.

Take peanuts. The PCA incident that blanketed our country (and a few others) with salmonella-contaminated peanuts and peanut products should be well over by now. The plants have been shut down. More than 2,100 products in 17 categories have been voluntarily recalled by more than 200 companies, since January, 2009 (probably more, as the FDA information is at least a week or two out of date). Hundreds of people have become ill and some have died. But guess what, it's not over.

There have been more peanut product recalls in the last few days, including one yesterday. More or less ditto for pistachios. The most recent pistachio one - just four days ago. No wonder I could not get any at Trader Joe's on Wednesday when I wanted to make my usual favorite of herb cornish hen, stuffed with raisins and pistachios (I settled for pine nuts instead).

But back to peanuts. Yesterday's recall really illustrates the oddity of our so-called food safety system. Nuts for You of Preston ID is recalling Roasted and Salted Peanuts manufactured with peanuts bought from PCA. The product was distributed between March 15, 2008 and Jan 15, 2009.The sell-by date on the plastic bag of 'Nuts for You' was Feb 18, 2009 (more than four months ago) . Presumably the nuts were purchased sometime in 2007 from PCA's Texas plant to make these cute bags of salted peanuts sold at gift stores.

So here we are on June 25, asking consumers to send back products made of antique nuts (maybe two years old) that are well and truly expired and, are very likely to have also been well and truly eaten. The really bad news is that this type of pattern is not unusual.

Nuts to you, FDA. How are we supposed to escape bad food in America?

bon appetit!


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