Update: Late today, Whole Foods Markets in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii have voluntarily recalled “peanut grinder products” because the expanded recall by the Blakely, Ga., plant included Whole Foods’ supplier for bulk peanuts. (So cross off “Grind Your Own” as an avoidance strategy.)

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

If you’ve been following the peanut product recalls…which are still trickling out, you’ve likely noticed that organic, “natural” and whole-food type products did not escape this food disaster.

First, there were Clif bars, then other products aimed at organic food buyers. This a.m., comes notice that the “Heavenly Candy Company” of Tigard, Ore., is recalling its Peanut Bliss candy, which was sold by Whole Food Markets, Markets of Choice in Oregon and Full O’ Life stores in Burbank, Calif.

Turns out the peanuts in these candies were full o’ potential salmonella once the second Peanut Corporation of America plant, the one in Plainview, Texas, became part of the recall.

Blissfully, the recall notices are thinning as the last slippery bits of contaminated peanut butter and peanuts are extracted from our vast American food machine.

In fairness, there have been no illnesses associated with the Blissful Candy, as is the case with most of the hundreds of recalled products. Most of the recalls were precautionary. But one wonders about the cost of all this.

Shopping in one of America’s biggest big box stores yesterday, I reached with apprehension for the Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter, upon which my vegetarian children depend for survival. A teen next to me was reaching for a jar about the same time, but her mother admonished her. They were skipping peanut butter that day. (Even though retail jar peanut butter has been declared safe.)

It was understandable. Read the report on PCA’s Blakely, Ga., plant where inspectors found mold, salmonella, uncleaned processing equipment, roasters in need of repair, and lax practices in which bad product was stored next to good product.

The moral to this whole fiasco is not hard to figure out: You can’t have the fox watching the hen house as my grandparents would say. Yet, in this country, the big food (or finance) corporations have become so powerful, it appears that even when federal inspectors flag problems, as they did in the PCA case, company magnates feel comfortable going around them. PCA “shopped” its tainted peanut butter to get the test results it wanted, then shipped it out, despite inspector warnings. In some cases, it didn’t even bother to get contrary results, it flagrantly shipped suspect product.

Seems like we’re a nation of grown-ups with malformed moral compasses. Which means our peanut butter-eating children face risks beyond a few missed PB & Js.