When I buy organic food, I assume I'm getting something that's safer and healthier than the conventionally-processed alternative. But it turns out that's not always the case. On Monday the Food and Drug Administration pulled the plug at the country's largest organic peanut butter manufacturer because it was crawling with salmonella.
The Sunland Inc. plant, which produces peanut butter and other nut butters for Trader Joe's, has been plagued with health problems this year and had been shut down, voluntarily, since September after several product recalls because of salmonella contamination. By the beginning of October, 101 products had been recalled.
The tainted products sickened 41 people in 20 states -- most of them children -- and the FDA took the bold move of revoking the company's registration this week so that they could no longer make or distribute any food. The agency found salmonella in 28 locations in the plant and in 13 samples of nut butters it tested. It was also found in a sample of raw peanuts.
What the heck is going on over there? What kinds of food safety procedures does that plant have in place if it's basically a salmonella farm? "The agency also found improper handling of the products, unclean equipment and uncovered trailers of peanuts outside the facility that were exposed to rain and birds," The Huffington Post reported. And we all know "exposed to birds" really means "full of bird poop." I kind of want to throw up.
Because when you shop at places like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, another chain that sold products from Sunland, you think you're doing something good for your kids. You're buying healthier foods, organic and safe. But this shows us that organic food is just as vulnerable to contamination if it's being processed by irresponsible parties.
Thankfully, the FDA has stepped in and the contaminated food won't be making its way to store shelves anymore. But how vulnerable we are to the safety practices of those who make our food is eye-opening and a little scary.
Do you usually assume organic food is safer than the alternatives?
Image via HeatherHeatherHeather/Flickr