Friday, February 16, 2007

FDA Pans Certain Nut Butters

Specifically ...
"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to eat certain jars of Peter Pan peanut butter or Great Value peanut butter due to risk of contamination with Salmonella Tennessee (a bacterium that causes foodborne illness). The affected jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter have a product code located on the lid of the jar that begins with the number 2111."
- FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Certain Jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter

Because I actually like peanut butter, I thought I'd make a few unsolicited recommendations to ConAgra Foods, Peter Pan's manufacturer.

Dear ConAgra,

First, I think a more accurate label on a product that contains at least 5 ingredients would be "Peanut Butter-Containing Spread", or to be even more disclosing to an increasingly distrustful citizenry, since the second most prevalent ingredient is sugar, I recommend "Sweetened Peanut Butter-Containing Spread". The more unaffected and natural-sounding "Peanut Butter" might be a little misleading.

Second, given that those 5 ingredients are ...
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil
  • Partially hydrogenated rapeseed oil
  • Salt
... I personally would be embarrassed to promote such a spread in the present anti-partially-hydrogenated climate. But it's your call. I see you've managed to get your per serving amount of resulting trans fats down to something less than 0.5 grams which allows you to claim "Zero or No Trans Fat" on the label. If this lets you sleep better at night, so be it.

Third, and most importantly, I realize you find financial reward in embellishment of a food product which, in its basic form, need only contain one ingredient. But I'm going to wager that your latest addition of Salmonella, with its accompanying public relations fallout, may set your bottom line back a few digits. It's never a good idea to mess with a recipe when the resulting product prompts a biggety-big federal regulating agency to use the words "Do not eat" in reference to your profit-maker. Perhaps your latest ingredient appeared inadvertently, in which case I have a simply remedy : clean your grinders.

Fanatic Cook, Team Chunky
Photo from Bill Marler's blog. Mr. Marler is attorney who litigates foodborne illness cases and has some good running commentary on this latest outbreak.

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