ABC News Uncovers Reports of Contamination at Peanut Plant

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — ABC News has learned new information about the peanut supplier linked to the salmonella outbreak this fall that sickened 41 people in 20 states.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request made by ABC News, the Food and Drug Administration granted access to inspection reports on Sunland Inc. for the past few years. Findings include reports salmonella found in peanuts that the company failed to detect on its own, in-shell peanuts exposed to elements and moisture, and the presents of giant birds flocking over peanut stocks.

The Portales, New Mexico-based plant has been plagued with many more problems, according to the reports. One instance stated that an FDA agent observed an employee in one of the assembly lines cleaning equipment with nothing more than water, while another report detailed the sight of bird droppings on peanuts, and in the company’s almond butter product.

In the reports that date back as far as 2003, one inspection also discovered that “the firm’s plumbing constitutes a source of contamination to food… effective measures were not being taken to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests… the firm failed to provide adequate screening or other protection against pests…. the firm failed to hold rework materials in bulk or in suitable containers so as to protect against contamination.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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