Thursday, February 19, 2009

What’s the Story with Our Bulk Peanut Butter Recall?

Well, let me first say that this is the most broad-sweeping food recall I have ever experienced in my 20-plus years in the food business. In total we have removed more than 135 different recalled products from our shelves. The most important priority for us is to protect the health of our customers and staff, and we take that responsibility very seriously. The minute we are alerted by the FDA of a product recall we send instructions to our stores to remove and destroy the affected product. We then post information about the recalled product on our website and create signs to post on the store shelves.

We have received a few questions from customers asking why we did not issue a press release for the recalled self-serve peanut butter. The answer is that the FDA does not require (or even suggest) that retailers issue press releases for recalled products because they require the manufacturer to issue this press release and GloryBee Foods did indeed do that for the peanuts in question.

As this whole peanut-salmonella debacle has been unfolding, the FDA has changed their position on bulk peanut butter. Initially, because we were not considered to be a manufacturer, we were not required to issue a press release for the recalled peanuts. Ten days after we received the initial recall for the bulk peanuts, the FDA revised their position and determined that because peanuts are ground into peanut butter in the store, that constitutes manufacturing. So on February 12 they asked us to issue a press release, and we did immediately.

To further clarify, The Oregonian posted an article on their website this morning regarding our bulk peanut butter recall. The article originally stated that there was a 10 day lag time between us removing the product from our shelves and issuing a press release for the recalled product. That is because the manufacturer recall on the product was in place already.

Lynne Terry of The Oregonian has updated the article and clarified that we have been in full compliance with the FDA through this entire process. You can find the article here.

The chronological facts of the bulk peanut recall are as follows:

On February 2, 2009 we received a recall notice from the FDA for the bulk peanuts that we purchase from GloryBee for our self serve grinders. We removed all peanuts from GloryBee immediately upon receiving notice and posted customer signage and posted information on our website. As a part of our compliance with the FDA, we were not told to issue a press release for this product at that time.

We sanitized our self serve grinders twice and purchased new bulk peanuts from a source not implicated in the FDA recall.

On February 12, 2009 the FDA realized that there were retailers involved in the manufacturing of the peanut butter and as a result notified us and other retailers to issue a press release letting our customers know about the Feb 2nd recall for the GloryBee bulk peanuts. We complied immediately and issued the FDA approved press release within hours of the notification on February 12, 2009, and received confirmation from the AP newswire service that the release had been sent successfully.


The FDA failed to post our recall notice over their “recall alerts” system until last night just after midnight, which is why news organizations are posting information about it today.

I assure you, we’ve been on top of each and every peanut-related recall that’s affected products in our stores, and we’ve posted information both in our stores and on our website within minutes of notification. The safety of the food we sell is our absolute top priority, and recalls are always treated with the highest level of attention and sense of urgency. In fact, the FDA has inspected our stores for compliance with regard to recall procedures and not only did they commend us for our 100% compliance, they commented that “we over-communicated with our staff and customers.” We think it’s nearly impossible to over-communicate when it comes to the health and safety of our customers and staff, and we will continue to be vigilant when it comes to your health.

For the latest information on recalls of products sold at New Seasons Market, please check our website’s recall listings here and visit the FDA’s recall page for full information regarding all recalls.

Thanks for reading.