Peanut Product Recall Took Company Approval
by Gardiner Harris for the New York Times, February 2, 2009
Even though federal health officials have begun a criminal investigation into whether the Peanut Corporation of America deliberately sold contaminated products, the government still needed the company's permission last week before announcing a huge recall of its products.
The wording of the recall statement had to be approved by the company before the Food and Drug Administration could publish it under current rules.
More than 500 people have been sick in the outbreak of salmonella poisoning, and 8 have died. More than 430 product brands have been recalled.
The Blakely plant [was known to be] the source of the salmonella outbreak on Jan. 9. The peanut company announced a limited recall on Jan. 13 and expanded it on Jan. 16. The company waited until Jan. 28 before recalling all products made at the plant in 2007 and 2008, even though it had known since 2007 that tests of products showed contamination with salmonella.
Craig Wilson, an assistant vice president at Costco, said he pulled Kellogg's Keebler and Austin peanut butter crackers off shelves ... nearly a week before the Peanut company and Kellogg issued a nationwide recall that covered those cookies.
Mr. Wilson said he could not wait for the F.D.A. to make announcements about food problems that are widely known among food safety officials. "I don't want to say that you can't rely on the F.D.A.," Mr. Wilson said, "but we certainly can move quicker than they do."