Sunland Facility Closed by FDA

Portales, NM—In late November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed a Sunland manufacturing facility, located here, that FDA says was responsible for producing Salmonella bredeney-contaminated peanut butter. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA investigated Sunland as the source of a multistate Salmonella outbreak that infected 42 people in 20 states. Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt was found as the source of the outbreak, which was traced back to its sole distributor, Sunland.

FDA and CDC reviewed the NM facility’s test records from the past three years and found several positive results for Salmonella. In samples taken from June 2009 through September 2012, Salmonella was found in at least 40 finished products from 11 product lots of nut butter. The samples taken from the facility were a positive match to the samples from the outbreak.

According to FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices, this Sunland facility had “food prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions,” which likely led to cross-contamination between raw and roasted or brined peanuts.

Sunland has been given the opportunity for an informal hearing. If taken, the company must provide FDA with a corrective action plan. Sunland’s facility cannot reopen until it has implemented procedures to produce safe products.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2013