Plant under inspection

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Russell's Super Save store manager Tim Russell said at least 36 jars of Sunland's peanut butter have been pulled from their shelves in a recall.

With the harvest is in the early stages, Sunland Inc. is busy processing peanuts while dealing with the aftermath of a national salmonella outbreak linked to its peanut butter plant.

The peanut butter-making equipment is being scrubbed top to bottom and tests are being done to see if the bacteria is on it.

"The (peanut butter) plant at this point is under inspection," Sunland spokeswoman Katalin Coburn said Wednesday. "There is a procedure and a protocol we have to follow dictated by the FDA."

Sunland has voluntarily recalled 76 varieties of peanut and almond butter after the Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 29 salmonella illnesses in 18 states to Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter.

The recall is for products produced since May 1 but only the Trader Joe's creamy salted variety was linked to any illness but other varieties were recalled because they were manufactured using the same equipment.

A full listing of products recalled, listed by variety and UPC code, is available on Sunland's website at www.sunlandinc.com.

The listing includes three products for Trader Joe's and numerous products for other companies including Sunland, Archer Farms, Earth Balance, Sprouts, Naturally More, Serious Food Silly Prices, Open Nature, Heinen's and Fresh & Easy.

The products have "best if used by" dates between May 1 and Sept. 24, 2013.

Coburn said Sunland has several plants, and the peanut butter plant is where the recalled products are made.

Coburn said the entire plant will be tested by the FDA to see if the bacteria is on the peanut butter-making equipment. If no bacteria is found, the plant will be able to operate again.

She added that there's no word on how long the process will take and when they will reopen but she hopes they will be able to reopen the plant soon.

Coburn says the recall will have a large financial impact but she couldn't estimate a number.

"Our first priority is the health and well-being of our customers," Coburn said.

She added that none of their products have been linked to illnesses.

Portales Russell's Super Save manager Tim Russell said they pulled at least 36 jars of Sunland brand peanut butter from their shelves as part of the recall.

Russell said at least 10 people have also came in for refunds and he's received quite a few phone calls about it so he expects more customers to return the peanut butter.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story

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