38 sick; Sunland Salmonella peanut plant focuses on reopening

Following the Canadian episode of yeah-we’re-going-back-to-work-after-bad-things-happened-to-people-without-plausible explanation in the E. coli O157 at XL Foods, the Portales, New Mexico plant of Sunland Inc. may back in business soon.

They’ve shut down, torn apart facilities, and now they’re rebuilding it all. Sunland officials hope to reopen their peanut processing facility within a week and the peanut butter plant before year’s end. 

“I think everyone is very excited to get back into production,” Sunland Vice President Katalin Coburn said.  “The mood has been increasingly positive, and I think everyone is ready to just go forward.” 

Home to the naturally sweet Valencia Peanuts, Sunland products reached big name stores nationwide like Target, Trader Joe’s and Costco. 

Inspections at the plant revealed bacterial contamination. Coburn said contamination appears to have occurred environmentally.

“I do believe that consumers and the industry understands not just the challenges but also the steps that Sunland has taken, and will continue to take to ensure safe, quality food,” Coburn added. 

Sunland is receiving this year’s peanut crop and storing it for now. Coburn said they’re still analyzing data from their tests and the FDA’s inspection.

I’m not sure the 39 people sickened in 20 states understand. And I look forward to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 483 being made public, so mere mortals and peanut eaters everywhere can assess for themselves the steps Sunland has taken.

If Sunland was actually concerned, they’d go and brag about their awesome food safety instead of assuming the sheep will follow the flock.