The plant was closed on February 14 in the wake of the salmonella outbreak, which led to 425 confirmed cases of the illness. Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter were pulled from the shelves in a massive recall that cost ConAgra between $50 and $60 million.
Meanwhile, more lawsuits have been filed against ConAgra foods. A couple from Kentucky has filed a lawsuit claiming they became ill in early February after eating the contaminated peanut butter. They were both so ill that they wound up in the emergency room where a doctor diagnosed them with food poisoning. Their lawsuit asks ConAgra to pay the couple's medical bills and other punitive damages.
Families who were affected by the contaminated peanut butter urged lawmakers to strengthen regulations governing companies involved with supplying food. Consumers are growing concerned with the recent incidents of contamination. In addition to the peanut butter salmonella outbreak, spinach was recalled from store shelves after it was contaminated with E. coli last year. In March of this year, millions of cans of dog and cat food were pulled from the shelves because they were made with contaminated wheat gluten.
Trust in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may also be waning as reports come out that the organization knew about problems at the ConAgra plant two years before the contamination occurred. The FDA actually investigated complaints about salmonella in 2005 but did not follow-up on requests for specific documents. According to a report, the FDA was looking into findings of salmonella in peanut butter that was related to new equipment. The report goes on to say that insects were found in some equipment and water leaked onto the product. The investigators then requested documents from ConAgra, which the company asked the FDA to put in writing. The FDA did not do so, saying that it did not see anything that was truly dangerous.