It’s been a couple of weeks since I first talked about the peanut butter recall due to salmonella. In the month since it was announced that the peanut butter and peanut butter paste produced by Peanut Corp. of America’s (PCA) Georgia plant contained the bacteria, more has been learned. I’ve got updates on some of the news surrounding the recall.

If you’re looking to read some feel-good news this morning, this isn’t going to do it for you. But if you want to understand what is going on with the recall and what is being learned about the safety of our food, read on.

As of yesterday the recalled products list available on the FDA website had reached over 1,800 items.

The New York Times reported yesterday that another PCA manufacturing plant has been closed in Plainview, Tex., “after a laboratory test indicated possible salmonella contamination, a development that threatens to widen one of the largest food recalls ever and raises more questions about why the government allowed the plant to operate.”

Some of the former employees at the Texas plant said that the facility was “disgusting.” It is unclear if further products will be recalled yet.

MSN’s Money Central has a timeline of events in salmonella outbreak beginning in 2006 and going up to Feb. 6, 2009. One of the most interesting and disturbing events in the timeline — “2008: Seven tests performed for the company [PCA] are positive for salmonella. In each case, after a retest is negative, the product is shipped.”

Another New York Times piece clues us in on the holes in the food safety net. One of the holes? "State and federal inspectors do not require the peanut industry to inform the public — or even the government — of salmonella contamination in its plants."

If you read this entire article you’re bound to get angry at things like the limitations that are placed on state inspectors that hamper them from doing their job or the fact that a federal report shows that “plant managers had not decontaminated the peanut butter processing line after detecting salmonella.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that an informal survey in the metro Atlanta area found some of the recalled products can still be found on store shelves — especially on convenience store shelves. Confused workers readily pulled contaminated items off of shelves when reporters informed them, but many said they hadn’t been informed well enough by other methods.

If all of this information has you as confused as some of the convenience store clerks near Atlanta, the CDC has a list of recommendations for consumers. The first thing on the list is that "major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores are NOT affected by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) recall." Still, many people are pushing their carts right by the peanut butter shelves in grocery stores, and sales of jarred peanut butter have dropped 22 percent.

Image: Stephen Dann

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