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September 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM

Nut recall spreads to more Washington stores

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Almond butter and Cinnamon Apple & Almond Butter sandwiches sold at Evolution Fresh stores in Seattle and Bellevue are the latest on the list of a major nut recall connected to a salmonella outbreak in 19 states, according to the FDA. (Two of the salmonella cases have been in Washington, but the Spokesman-Review attributed all the illnesses reported to date to Trader Joe’s peanut butter. Evolution Fresh items, made by Seattle’s Gretchen’s Shoebox Express, have not been connected to any illnesses. Gretchen’s said in a press release that it was voluntarily recalling them “out of the utmost caution and care for our customers.”)

Looking at the list of some 100 products recalled so far from New Mexico-based Sunland, Inc. reminds me how big our food system is — a lesson we already learned in the last major peanut recall. Evolution Fresh sells a product made by Gretchen’s (I would have been more inclined to buy them with the Gretchen’s label — they have a longstanding reputation for good sandwiches) and Trader Joe’s peanut butter is made by Sunland (hey, Chow! Now we know!), as is Earth Balance almond butter and a bunch of other brands that I would have thought of as separate entities.

As food safety lawyer Bill Marler has told me more than once, smaller companies aren’t necessarily any safer than bigger ones. What I do like about them, though, is that what you see is usually what you get. The CB’s peanut butter I buy at local markets (which is not involved in the current recalls) is made in Kingston by a guy whose initials are really C.B. I’m surprised anew every time I look at this chart to see how convoluted the bigger picture gets.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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