Okay, well, remember that salmonella outbreak in jars of peanut butter in February? ConAgra Foods, makers of the contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter, just announced that moisture from a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler was the source.
This conjures up a nasty picture in my mind of a dingy, dark factory, with a dripping roof and puddles of dirty water on the floor. Gross.
The salmonella came from its plant in Sylvester, Ga. The roof leaked during a rainstorm, and the sprinkler system went off twice because it was broken. The wetness from these three problems mixed with dormant salmonella bacteria that likely came from raw peanuts and peanut dust. Huh?! What the hell is "dormant salmonella" doing in the plant in the first place?
That plant was cleaned thoroughly and the roof and sprinkler system repaired, but the salmonella remained and somehow came in contact with the peanut butter before it was packaged. This made over 400 people sick in 44 different states.
Peanuts are grown underground and salmonella can be found in the dirt, but generally all bacteria are killed when the raw peanuts are roasted. When making peanut butter, the nuts are again heated (above the salmonella-killing temperature of 165 degrees), and are ground into a paste and mixed with other ingredients before being squirted into jars and quickly sealed.
Experts say that the salmonella probably contaminated the peanut butter just as it was cooling and being placed in the jars, but that's just speculation.
A spokeswoman from ConAgra reassured that “consumer safety and health is our top priority." The company plans to redesign the plant to provide greater separation between raw peanuts and the finished product.
This is so sad to me. It seems like more and more foods that are supposed to be sustaining our lives are actually putting us in danger. What is going on?