Bad peanuts found before outbreak - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

UPDATE: Recalled products sent to schools in 3 states including Idaho

Bad peanuts found before outbreak

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LATEST INFORMATION:
Federal officials say schools in at least three states were shipped possibly tainted peanut products linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak as part of the National School Lunch Program. Schools in California, Idaho and Minnesota received roasted peanuts and peanut butter, which are now part of a rapidly expanding recall list from the Blakely, Ga.,-based Peanut Corp. of America. The USDA believes most of the recalled food has been consumed. More from the National School Lunch Program.

WASHINGTON. - The Associated Press has learned that the government found tainted peanuts, from the same plant now linked to a salmonella outbreak, well before illnesses hit.

More Information

- From the FDA: Recall of Products Containing Peanut Butter
- Search combined list of recalled products here
- Contact the FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD
- Contact the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO

The government is acknowledging that a shipment containing a "filthy, putrid or decomposed substance" was returned to the U.S. in April; months earlier than reflected in a federal tracking database.

According to government records, the rejected shipment came across a bridge between New York and Canada. It was logged by the Food and Drug Administration, but never tested by federal inspectors. The peanuts were eventually destroyed after back-and-forth efforts between the FDA and Peanut Corp. broke down and after the FDA rejected as "unacceptable" the findings by a private lab the company hired to analyze its peanuts.

The FDA's explanation raises new questions about the adequacy of food-safety tests arranged by Peanut Corp. on its own products.

Gov't launches criminal probe in peanut recall

Federal officials say the government has opened a criminal investigation into the salmonella outbreak.

Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center, said Friday the Justice Department will investigate possible criminal violations by the Blakely, Ga., peanut processing plant that shipped tainted products to dozens of other food companies.

More than 500 people have been sickened as a result of the outbreak, and at least eight may have died because of salmonella infections. More than 430 products have been recalled.

The company shipped products that initially tested positive for salmonella after retesting and getting a negative result. The FDA's investigations branch will assist in the probe.

White House: Stricter food safety rules coming

The White House is pledging stricter oversight of food safety in response to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 500 people in the United States and may have killed at least eight.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that President Barack Obama plans to announce a new Food and Drug Administration commissioner and other oversight officials in the coming days.

Gibbs said they will put in place a "stricter regulatory structure" to prevent breakdowns in food-safety inspections.

Gibbs said recent revelations about poor oversight have been alarming. He said he was referring to both the government's own regulatory system and to the peanut company linked to the salmonella outbreak.

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