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ConAgra Banquet Pot Pie Recall Plant to Undergo 90-Day Verification Period, USDA Says

Nov 19, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Federal inspectors will be keeping an eye on the ConAgra plant that produced Salmonella tainted Banquet Pot Pies for at least the next three months.  The Missouri plant, which reopened last week, had closed in October after the Banquet pot pies that were made there where implicated in a 35-state Salmonella outbreak.  The Salmonella outbreak forced ConAgra to recall the Banquet and store brand pot pies made at the Missouri plant.

ConAgra’s Banquet and store brand pot pies were first linked to dozens of cases of Salmonella poisoning throughout the country on October 9. That day, ConAgra issued a health alert about the Salmonella pot pie outbreak, warning consumers not to eat any of its 7-ounce store brand or Banquet Pot Pies with the codes “P-9” or “Est 1059” on the package. Despite the health alert, ConAgra did not recall the tainted Banquet pot pies. Instead, ConAgra tried to deflect blame for the Salmonella pot pies by claiming that consumers caused the outbreak by failing to cook the pies properly.  On October 11, ConAgra finally did issue a pot pie recall.

Prior to the ConAgra Banquet pot pie plant reopening, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had said it found “flaws” in the facility’s safety plan. The USDA did not elaborate on what those problems where, and said it would only do so if forced by a formal Freedom of Information Act Request.  According to the USDA, ConAgra has corrected those deficiencies.

However, ConAgra is going to have to put up with more federal scrutiny at the Missouri plant than it's probably used to.  Before the plant reopened, the USDA had asked ConAgra improve record keeping and testing of incoming ingredients, as well as the cooking instructions on its packages. The 90-day verification period is designed to ensure that workers at the ConAgra Banquet Pot Pie plant are maintaining food safety procedures applied after the recall. Neither ConAgra nor the USDA have been able to determine the source of Salmonella contamination in the Banquet Pot Pies.

This is the second time this year that ConAgra has had to issue a large-scale product recall because of Salmonella contamination. In February, the company recalled its Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter after it was blamed for a Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 600 people in 47 states. The Salmonella contamination was blamed on a leaky roof and malfunctioning sprinkler system at ConAgra’s manufacturing facility in Sylvester, Georgia. The company only recently returned Peter Pan Peanut Butter to the market, just weeks prior to the Banquet Pot Pie Salmonella scare.  ConAgra says Banquet and store brand pot pies should be back on shelves by January.


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