Canadian rejection of peanuts led to recall? I don’t think so.

The Globe and Mail reports today that a rejected shipment of Peanut Corp of America’s (PCA) chopped peanuts last spring led to the recall of almost 200 products in Canada and over 800 in the U.S.

The Globe article says:

A customer in Canada rejected the peanuts, an act that may have saved lives here, and prompted officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to turn their attention to sanitary conditions in the Blakely, Ga., peanut plant at the centre of the outbreak.

As Fred Willard so succinctly puts it in A Mighty Wind:  "I don’t think so".

It’s more likely that the 500+ illnesses and the 8 deaths linked to PCA’s peanut butter products (not the customer-rejected peanuts — in April 2008) led to the recall.

And overstating how great the system works (which happens all too often, akin to safest food in the world) when lots of other companies in Canada have used the peanut butter products is not all that reassuring.  I know there is a lot of anti-America sentiment around the economic stimulus/protectionism stuff, but a Canadian company rejecting that shipment did not save the day and halt this outbreak (which is still classed as active) or start the recall. Sure the rejected shipment is part of the picture, but no one got really excited before the Salmonella illnesses started showing up. 

That’s right.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.