Salmonella recalls grow; Obama orders review of FDA operations

As the number of recalled products topped 800, U.S. President Barack Obama said this morning he is ordering a “complete review” of the Food and Drug Administration after it failed to detect shipments of salmonella-contaminated peanut products.

In an interview taped Sunday and aired this morning on the television gabfest, Today, Obama said the agency’s failure to recognize and intercept the products was only the latest of numerous “instances over the last several years” in which “the FDA has not been able to catch some of these things as quickly as I expect them to catch.”

“At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter.”

USA Today today reported that the recall, one of the largest ever, started with bulk peanut butter, spread to crackers and cookies and has engulfed products as diverse as kettle corn, pad Thai and trail mix, with over 800 recalls and many more expected this week.

Robert Brackett, senior vice president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said anecdotal evidence indicates that sales of all peanut-related products, even unaffected peanut butters, are slipping, adding,

"All it takes is a little company, and it has a huge ripple effect.”

The GMA says Peanut Corporation of America supplied less than 1% of peanut products sold in the U.S. Still, the FDA says the company has more than 300 customers, many of whom used PCA’s products as an ingredient.

Brackett fears consumers will tire of checking recall lists and begin shunning anything with peanuts. Past food scares have shown that to be true.

When asked by CBC Radio in Sudbury, Ontario this morning, “what’s a consumer to do,” I said,

“Avoid the stuff for now. It may not be fair, but the recall list is growing so fast, it’s prudent. And now folks have an idea what people with peanut allergies have to go through.”