Peanut Products
peanut recall

In the face of a national salmonella outbreak, Peanut Corporation of America voluntarily recalled its peanut products.

AP Photo/Ric Feld

This last recall was vast, and the outbreak deadly. By early January 2009, the FDA had linked a deadly salmonella outbreak to a Georgia plant belonging to Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), and the company immediately ordered a recall. Since the initial recall, another PCA plant in Texas was implicated and the number of recalled products amounted to more than 2,000 [source: Cook].

In addition to being among the largest recalls ever, it's also been one of the most dramatic. A criminal investigation into the outbreak has been uncovering startling evidence that PCA might have knowingly shipped products after salmonella tests came back positive, and in other cases, after retests came up negative or before test results came back at all [source: Schmit]. Whether that's true or not, the resulting outbreak has caused nine deaths and more than 600 cases of illness [source: Cook].

PCA has permanently closed down as a result. But like other devastating recalls, innocent companies have had to bear the initial costs. Kellogg has reported losing $70 million, and other smaller companies are struggling to survive -- the manufacturer Forward Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy [source: Newsday].

After inspecting a list like this, it's never been clearer that history repeats itself. But it's also testament to how incredibly complex the food production and distribution systems have become in the modern world.

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