Not all peanut butter is harmful

Published 8:41 pm Monday, February 2, 2009

In your Lifestyle section of Sunday’s paper, you ran a story which referred to the recent peanut salmonella issue. As a local peanut farmer, I feel that the public needs to be aware of certain facts about peanuts and our country’s food safety in general.

Peanut manufacturers are the companies that take shelled peanuts and then roast, crush, or otherwise modify the peanut for its final use. The contaminated peanuts were all traced back to the manufacturer Peanut Corp. of America, which is very small representing only about 2% of the total peanut supply. Of course the salmonella contamination was only on a miniscule percentage of PCA’s production. No peanut butter anyone bought on a grocery shelf was contaminated. PCA did not manufacture peanut butter for retail sale. PCA is presently closed and will not be reopening anytime in the near future. Peanut manufacturers not only have government food safety regulations to follow, but they also have industry wide best practice guidelines that exceed the government standards. Practically all manufacturers follow the higher guidelines. In the wake of the PCA issue, it is no doubt that all remaining manufacturers will follow the strictest protocols. In short it is not good for anyone’s business for even the smallest contamination to occur.

We are all blessed to live in a country with an incredibly safe food supply. Our farmers and the middle men between them and the consumers, know that a safe supply is essential for business and for their own families. In most parts of the world, such an outbreak would have been quickly brushed aside. In ours, the whole industry responds swiftly to ensure the possibly contaminated products are eliminated and future accidents are prevented. I encourage each of you to have confidence in the peanut products you purchase. Remember that peanuts make an excellent affordable source of protein in times like these when many are on tight budgets.

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Of course, as a cattleman as well as a peanut grower, I want you to enjoy a good steak from time to time.

Jay Minter