Recalled peanut butter distributed in commodities program

Peanut butter on Sunland Inc.'s recall list was distributed in the area as part of federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program, according to a program official.

Fran Brown, director of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in Roswell, which distributes commodities to eastern New Mexico sites, said she is aware they have distributed recalled peanut butter, a yellow-capped Sunland variety.

The commodities packages with the peanut butter in question were distributed in September, according to Brown. Recalled products have been removed from October's distributions.

"We are in the process of contacting our clients," Brown said. "Anyone that has peanut butter that matches a (UPC code) number on the recall list can just take it back where they handed it out and it will be replaced when it comes again this month."

Brown said she plans to notify the other distribution sites in eastern New Mexico in areas, including Elida (Allsup's store), Fort Sumner, Melrose and Portales. If the site is not an actual Salvation Army store, Brown said it will usually be a senior citizen center or a church.

Dianna Hernandez with the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico said they have pulled all recalled products from their inventory and none were distributed prior to pulling them.

Sunland voluntarily recalled 76 varieties of peanut and almond butter under multiple brand names last week after the Food and Drug Administration and the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention linked 29 salmonella illnesses in 18 states to Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter.

Sunland Inc. sells its nuts and nut butters to large groceries and other food distributors around the country. The company recalled products under multiple brand names after salmonella illnesses were linked Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, one of the brands manufactured by Sunland.

The recall has expanded to cashew butters, tahini and blanched and roasted peanut products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are now 30 illnesses in 19 states that can be traced to the Trader Joe's product.

According to Sunland spokeswoman Katalin Coburn, none of the new recall products are manufactured at the Portales plant.

"It has taken this amount of time for the information flow to reach the final users," Coburn said. "If the final user is a manufacturer, then that manufacturer has to issue its own recall."

Jesse Gutierrez of Clovis is concerned about his elderly neighbors consuming any of the recalled products.

While his neighbor was out of town, Gutierrez picked up his monthly commodities from the Salvation Army store in Clovis and says he received a recalled product.

Gutierrez said he checked the product number and it matched one of the product numbers on Sunland's recall list.

Those sickened reported becoming ill between June 11 and Sept. 11, according to the CDC. The recall is for products produced since May 1, but only the Trader Joe's creamy salted variety was linked to any illness but other varieties were recalled because they were manufactured using the same equipment.

"There is still no product of ours to be identified to contain salmonella," Coburn said.

She added that they are beginning to get their peanut butter plant back into operation and their other plants, including their processing plant, remain open as they are in the early stages of the peanut harvest.

"We have started the process to get the plant reopened but at this point we do not know the time frame," Coburn said.

According to Coburn, about 30 to 35 people work in the peanut butter plant and they continue to work in other areas.

Fast facts

Online: Brown said if anyone has questions about the commodities they received, please call 622-8700.

Full list of recalled foods: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/CORENetwork/ucm320413.htm

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