Peanut butter recall linked to moisture from leaky roof and faulty sprinkler at the manufacturing plant

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted April 5, 2007


UPDATE 1/12/2009: Another peanut butter recall has been issued by King Nut Companies for large tubs of peanut butter distributed to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other food service institutions, which may be contaminated with salmonella.

For the past two months, the food poisoning lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. have been investigating lawsuits for individuals injured by contaminated peanut butter.  Today it was announced that a leaky roof and defective sprinkler system, combined with poor plant design and inadequate testing procedures, allowed salmonella bacteria to contaminate jars of Peter Pan peanut butter and Great Value peanut butter which sickened thousands of people.

>>INFORMATION: Peanut butter recall lawsuits

In February 2007, ConAgra Foods issued a nationwide peanut butter recall after jars made at their plant in Georgia since October 2004 were linked to cases of salmonella food poisoning.   After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received an alarming number of reports of severe sicknesses involving the salmonella Tennessee bacteria, they recognized that nearly all of the victims had consumed Walmart brand Great Value peanut butter or Peter Pan peanut butter.  Jars of the recalled peanut butter which were tested have been shown to contain salmonella, and an FDA investigation of the manufacturing plant revealed traces of the bacteria at several locations.

After a two month investigation, the peanut butter food poisoning outbreak has been tied to three specific events at the manufacturing plant which allowed moisture to mix with dormant salmonella bacteria from raw peanut butter and peanut dust.  The peanut butter plant’s roof leaked during a rain storm allowing water inside the plant, and on two separate occasions a faulty sprinkler system went off. 

Salmonella is commonly present in the dirt underground where peanuts grow.  However, through proper standards of roasting the peanuts into peanut butter, any bacteria should be killed.  The negligence of the owners and plant manager allowed moisture into the plant where it was able to help the salmonella bacteria grow and contaminate the finished product.  The makers of the peanut butter also failed to properly test the jars to prevent contaminated peanut butter from being sold to the public.

To avoid future problems, the plant will be cleaned thoroughly, get a new roof, develop new procedures for routine testing and redesign the plant to provide greater separation between the raw peanuts and the finished peanut butter.  Thousands of individuals who experienced severe food poisoning question why the plant failed to take the preventative steps necessary to avoid this type of contamination in the first place.

Salmonella food poisoning affects around 40,000 people each year and is responsible for the deaths of about 600 people annually.  Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomitting.  Although most cases are tied to undercooked eggs or chicken, salmonella contamination can cause widespread food poisoning outbreaks.  For most healthy adults, salmonella resolves within a few days or weeks.  However, for young children, older adults and individuals with weak immune systems, salmonella infection could lead to very serious injuries or even death.


The Saiontz & Kirk food poisoning lawyers are continuing to review new claims for individuals who were injured by the recalled peanut butter.  If you, a friend or family member consumed any of the contaminated peanut butter and experienced sickness resulting in medical treatment, you may be eligible for a peanut butter lawsuit.  Request a free claim evaluation.

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