"At no time in its twenty-four year history has Sunland, Inc. released for distribution any products that it knew to be potentially contaminated with harmful microorganisms," Sunland president and CEO Jimmie Shearer said in a statement on the company's website. "In every instance where test results indicated the presence of a contaminant, the implicated product was destroyed and not released for distribution."
The FDA records show these problems go back a number of years. FDA inspectors found many of the same problems — including employees putting their bare fingers in to empty jars before they were filled, open bags of ingredients, unclean equipment, and many other violations — in a 2007 inspection. Similar problems were recorded by inspectors in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Sunland's New Mexico plants are currently shut down. Spokeswoman Katalin Coburn said the company is continuing to receive shipments of peanuts and is hoping to reopen when the FDA gives them approval.
A separate peanut butter outbreak in 2009 was linked to hundreds of illnesses and nine deaths.
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FDA updates on Sunland and list of recalled items: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/CORENetwork/ucm320413.htm
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