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Release Date: 11/27/2012

Consumers Union praises FDA shutdown of Sunland plant, presses for further implementation of federal food-safety rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s move to suspend operations at the food processor Sunland Inc, after FDA inspectors discovered salmonella in its processing plant.  Forty-one people in 20 states, most of them children, were reportedly sickened by peanut butter manufactured at the New Mexico plant, and plant records showed it had knowingly shipped contaminated peanut butter.  The FDA’s action marks the first time that the agency has used this new enforcement authority that it gained in a 2011 food safety law.

Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, said, “This sends a powerful message to food plants. If you’re cranking out unsafe food in substandard conditions, FDA will step in and shut you down.  FDA finally has some tools it has needed for a long time to crack down on these problems."

Halloran added, “This incident makes it clear why we needed the 2011 law, which was the first major overhaul of FDA's food safety authority since the Great Depression.  But there are other elements of the law that still haven’t taken effect.  These proposed rules are still under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget.  When the law is fully implemented, it would allow FDA to prevent problems like this, not just react to them.  This action against Sunland underscores why we need the government to release these rules, for the sake of protecting consumers.”

Contact:
David Butler, Consumers Union, 202.462.6262 or [email protected]

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