"All Americans, even those who rail about government’s regulatory overreach, would agree it’s critical to keep our food supply safe.
That’s why it’s heartening that the Food and Drug Administration for the first time took action to shut down a peanut butter plant in New Mexico after it failed to clean up its act. At least 41 people nationwide have been sickened by the salmonella-tainted organic peanut butter.
The FDA gained new power under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 to close plants it deems unsafe. Previously, it had to take companies to court before forcing them to stop selling food. The process took time. Now that the burden of proof has shifted, plants must prove their products are safe once the FDA decides otherwise."
The Obama administration and FDA still haven’t finished implementing parts of the act. The FDA could have suspended Sunland’s registration before any illnesses occurred if the preventive rules were fully in effect. And the FDA did not tell the public of violations at the plant before the illnesses were reported.
“This is reactive. More than 40 people have gotten sick from eating a contaminated product,” Pew Charitable Trust Food Safety Campaign Director Sandra Eskin told Food Safety News. “In light of that, the FDA has shut them down, and that’s really, really good, but it would be excellent if we could have shut them down based on prevention-based food safety measures.”
Preventive efforts also could save lives. At least 30 people succumbed after a listeria outbreak in cantaloupe last year.