Students never ingested tainted peanut butter

DOWNEY - Among the school districts that received a shipment of possibly salmonella-contaminated peanut butter produced by the Peanut Corp. of America of Blakely, Georgia was the Downey Unified School District.It turns out that none of the peanut butter in question was ever served to students. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the purchase and distribution of other farm products, had earlier served notice that all shipments of the product in question were to be put on hold and those already delivered were not to be consumed. Christine Woods, director of food services for DUSD, said the district had frozen all 28 cases of peanut butter it has in its warehouse. The district's product purchases are made through the centralized, state-sanctioned Commodity Cooperative. Peanut butter sandwiches do not constitute a huge part of student lunches, she said. It satisfies the need for variety, though. More popular meals among DUSD students are pizza, hamburger, and chicken nuggets. Cereal and chips are snack favorites. The district's breakfast, lunch, and after school snack programs have registered significant increases over the last two years. The district has been engaged in a host of programs (nutrition, training, education, etc.) all aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle among students and their families. The contamination warning came after the most recent inspection conducted last month by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Peanut Corp of America's plant, which yielded results similar to its earlier inspection in 2001. At that time the FDA found the company's products to have been potentially exposed to insecticides as well as rodent infestation. In addition, according to an Associated Press report, "workers at the plant used an insecticide fogger in food-processing areas and didn't wash out the exposed equipment. They also found dirty duct tape wrapped on broken equipment." In the meantime, the USDA has suspended all business with the company. In fact, the company is under investigation by Congress. Woods said disruptions in the district's food services program happen from time to time, and these developments are nothing new. There was the beef recall last year, she said, and the spinach scare scarcely two years ago. There was also the infamous 'boil water order' here in Downey last year. Thus, aside from the occasional curious student inquiring about the missing peanut butter sandwich, it's business as usual at the district. ********** Published: February 13, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 43