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Peanut plant closed after feds find more salmonella

3:42 PM, Oct 15, 2012   |    comments
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By JoNel Aleccia, NBC News

Federal health officials have detected salmonella in bulk raw and roasted peanuts produced by a New Mexico supplier and in an associated nut butter facility, all tied to an outbreak of food poisoning that has sickened nearly three dozen people and sent potentially contaminated products to major retailers across the nation.

Sunland Inc. of Portales, N.M., expanded its ongoing recall to include raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts sold in quantities ranging from 2 ounces to 50 pounds, including products within current shelf life and those with no expiration date, Food and Drug Administration officials announced Saturday.

As of Oct. 5, the outbreak of salmonella Bredeney linked to the company's peanut products had sickened 35 people in 19 states and sent eight to the hospital. Nearly two thirds of those affected were children younger than 10, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illnesses have been tied to those who ate Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt.

FDA officials previously had detected salmonella in the environment of the plants that make products sold to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Harry & David and a slew of other processors and retailers across the country. But officials now have found salmonella in the main plant's raw and roasted bulk peanuts and they've also detected the outbreak strain of salmonella Bredeney in the nut butter plant.

Sunland has ceased production and distribution from both its nut butter and peanut processing plants, FDA officials reported.

The raw and roasted peanuts available to retail customers were distributed under the company's own name and sent to numerous large grocery and retail chains.

The number of products associated with the company's recall has continued to expand over recent weeks, climbing to more than 240. A full list of recalled products can be found here.

Consumers should not eat any products associated with Sunland and should discard them immediately, FDA officials warned. That is especially important for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, who are most vulnerable to dangerous salmonella infections.

NBC News

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