Boutique food chain Trader Joe's has issued a nationwide safety recall for its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, said the Food and Drug Administration. The concern over possible salmonella contamination in the 16-ounce jars of the peanut butter staple underscores the need for the Food Safety Modernization Act—a toughened safety bill whose implementation has been stalled by the U.S. government for the past nine months, says Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
According to the FDA, the agency is still investigating how the peanut butter might have become tainted with the salmonella bug. And while both the agency and supermarket chain say that no illnesses have been tied to the peanut butter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 29 illness have been reported in 18 states. Trader Joe's says its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter is being recalled and pulled off shelves "out of an abundance of caution."
Still, the current peanut butter recall—and last year's recall of Smucker's chunky peanut butter—for salmonella-based health risks emphasized the need for stricter food safety regulations.
Jean Halloran, director of food-policy initiatives for Consumer Reports, says the regulations to carry out the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill passed by Congress in January of last year in part because of the Peanut Corporation of America fiasco of 2009 remains stalled with the Office of Management and Budget review process. Says Halloran:
FDA has drafted the rules that are designed to prevent problems like this. Without them, we can't even be sure that the peanut butter sandwiches we send to school in our kids' lunches will be safe. OMB should release the rules now.
If you're looking for alternative for your kids' weekday lunches, see our story on how to make healthy school lunches your kids will love. And for more information about how to get involved with food safety, see our website: NotInMyFood.org.
Trader Joe's Voluntarily Recalls Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter Because of Possible Health Risk [FDA]
A Note To Our Customers About Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter Recall [Trader Joe's]
Trader Joe's recalls peanut butter linked to salmonella outbreak [Associated Press via NY Daily News]