Sales drop 25% as parents shun peanut butter

A story in Saturday’s  N.Y. Times will report that sales of all brands of peanut butter are down by nearly 25 percent – and those numbers will get worse.

The contaminated peanut butter traced to the Georgia plant represents a small percentage of the total $800 million in annual sales by the peanut butter companies in the United States. But the public relations problem for the rest of the industry is unlikely to ease anytime soon. …

So far, the salmonella outbreak has been linked to 575 illnesses and eight deaths, and more than 1,500 products have been recalled, including cookies, ice cream and pet food.

In response, brands like Jif and Peter Pan are taking out ads to tell shoppers that their products are not affected, and giving them a coupon.


Oh, I’m sorry, I fell asleep.

Instead of telling consumers what they aren’t, maybe the big peanut butter types could tell people what they are – the food safety steps they take to produce a product that won’t make people barf.

The best food producers, processors, retailers and restaurants should go above and beyond minimal government and auditor standards and sell food safety solutions directly to the public. The best organizations will use their own people to demand ingredients from the best suppliers; use a mixture of encouragement and enforcement to foster a food safety culture; and use technology to be transparent — whether it’s live webcams in the facility or real-time test results on the website — to help restore the shattered trust with the buying public.

The makers of Jif and Peter Pan have already gone on record saying they will not disclose their own food safety test results.