Roughly one million jars of peanut butter are being dumped into Curry County landfill in Clovis, New Mexico to speed up the bankruptcy of Sunland Inc., the peanut processing plant that was the source of a September, 2012 salmonella outbreak which caused 41 cases in 20 states, prompting a nationwide recall. Sunland was forced to file a Chapter 7 after membership-only warehouse club Costco declined to accept a large shipment.
Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said that Costco also refused an option to allow the completely safe peanut butter to be donated, or even repackaged for sale to institutions like mental hospitals and prisons. Coll commented, "We considered all options. They didn't agree."
After extensive testing of the peanut butter to confirm it was free of salmonella, Costco had initially accepted the order which was made with $2.8 million worth of Valencia peanuts. Yet after receiving eight loads, the retailer rejected further shipments, calling the peanut butter "not merchantable," due to leaking peanut oil. The remaining jars had been sitting in the Sunland warehouse since.
Here a clip concerning the process of making peanut butter:
Court records show that on March 19, Costco's stance on the matter was that "it would not agree to any disposition, other than destruction." Coll commented that "all parties agreed there's nothing wrong with the peanut butter from a health and safety issue."
Sonya Warwick, a spokesperson for Roadrunner Food Bank, New Mexico's largest, said that salvaged food comprised 74 percent of what was distributed across New Mexico in 2013. "Our fleet picks up rescued food from hundreds of locations weekly and brings it back to the food bank," she said, adding, "Before distributing it, volunteers help label, sort or repack it for distribution to partner agencies across the state. Access to rescued food allows us to provide a more well-rounded and balanced meal to New Mexicans experiencing hunger."
Instead of putting the peanut butter to good use, Sunland has spent $60,000 to transport 58 truckloads of jars, or roughly 25 tons worth to the landfill, where public works director Clint Bunch says it "will go in with our regular waste and covered with dirt." The peanut butter is said to be worth $2.6 million, and should have been completely dumped as of Friday.
Image via Wikimedia Commons