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Peanut butter dumped: Million PB jars dumped in landfill, food pantries get none

Peanut butter was dumped last week into a New Mexico landfill after Costco Wholesale refused to take delivery of the product and distribute it charitable organizations. The peanut butter was made by a now-bankrupt peanut-processing plant owned by Sunland Inc. The plant filed for bankruptcy after its tainted products were linked to a 2012 salmonella outbreak that sickened dozens of people across 20 states.
Workers haul flats of peanut butter prepped for insertion into a New Mexico landfill.

The peanut butter – 25 tons of it – that was hauled off was said to be healthy, reports The Associated Press on March 28 via ABC News.

Says the AP report: “Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said he had no other choice after Costco Wholesale refused to take shipment of the Sunland Inc. product and declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food to institutions like prisons.”

The plant was originally shut down by the Food & Drug Administration for eight months in 2012.

According to the Consumerist, “FDA investigators found salmonella bacteria at 28 sites in the plant, and contaminated samples of various nut butters. Inspectors also found unclean equipment and employees handling products improperly. Uncovered peanuts were left outside to collect rain and bird poop.”

The peanut butter is worth nearly 3 million. Costco initially bought up the jars, but upon inspection rebuffed the sale and refused to take delivery of the product, saying the peanut butter was leaking peanut oil and therefore “not merchantable.”

Coll disagreed, and said “all parties agreed there's nothing wrong with the peanut butter from a health and safety issue," but that Costco “would not agree to any disposition ... other than destruction.”

So rather than just giving the peanut butter away, the bankrupt company is paying $60,000 to have 950,000 jars of healthy peanut butter in plastic containers covered over with dirt at the Curry County landfill in Clovis, New Mexico.

MelidaJoy Pattison, the director of the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, said the trucks hauling away the peanut butter literally drove right by her food pantry.

“Those trucks carrying it to the dump went right by the front door of my food bank,” she said. “It wasn’t like it would have been out of the way.”

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