Get Used to Jelly Sandwiches: Organic Peanut Butter Shortage Ahead

A production license being revoked from a New Mexico peanut processor responsible for processing 90 percent of the organic peanut harvest this year could lead to a massive shortage of the popular spread.

Sunland, Inc, the New Mexico-based processor voluntarily stopped production in September after a massive nationwide recall of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter. More than 40 cases of salmonella poisoning were connected to the Portales, New Mexico location.

According to an audit released by the FDA, the Sunland location was cited for salmonella contamination in 28 locations throughout the facility, as well as improper handling, and unclean equipment. The audit also stated that the company ignored salmonella tests that came back positive. Bins of peanuts were found outside of the facility, uncovered.

Now, the company is reporting “millions” of pounds of peanuts waiting in barns to be processed, as well as the thousands of jars of peanut butter unsalable due to the contamination risk. Even though stores across the nation are experiencing major shortages on organic peanut products, plans to reopen the facility were shut down earlier this week thanks to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which gives the FDA the authority to prevent facilities considered at-risk for contamination to open—at least temporarily. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is the first time the FDA has used its authority in such a manner, calling the law “long overdue.” The Times says that the FDA’s decision to prevent Sunland from opening “shows how necessary the new law was.”

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Image: Vivian Chen [陳培雯]