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Millions of jars of peanut butter dumped in New Mexico

Million Jars Of Peanut Butter Dumped

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Nearly a million jars of peanut butter are being dumped at a New Mexico landfill to expedite the sale of a bankrupt peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.

Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said he had no other choice after Costco Wholesale refused to take shipment of the Sunland Inc. product and declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food to institutions like prisons.

"We considered all options," Coll said. "They didn't agree."

Costco officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment. But court filings indicate the product was made with $2.8 million worth of Valencia peanuts owned by Costco and had been sitting in the warehouse since the company shut down and filed for bankruptcy last fall.

After extensive testing, Costco agreed to a court order authorizing the trustee to sell it the peanut butter. But after getting eight loads, Costco rejected it as "not merchantable" because of leaky peanut oil.

Coll said "all parties agreed there's nothing wrong with the peanut butter from a health and safety issue," but court records show that on a March 19 conference call Costco said "it would not agree to any disposition ... other than destruction."

Peanut Butter Dumped

So instead of selling or donating the peanut butter, with a value estimated at $2.6 million, the estate is paying about $60,000 to haul the 950,000 jars of nut butter - or about 25 tons - to the Curry County landfill in Clovis, where public works director Clint Bunch says it "will go in with our regular waste and covered with dirt."

The last of 58 truckloads was expected Friday, the same day Golden Boy Foods of Canada was to close on its $26 million purchase of the plant.

Sunland made peanut butter under a number of different labels for retailers like Costco, Kroger and Trader Joe's, along with products under its own name. But the plant was shut down in September 2012 after its products were linked to 41 salmonella cases in 20 states.

It later reopened for about five months, but shut down last October after the company's Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

Sunland processed Valencia peanuts, a sweet variety of peanut that is unique to the region and preferred for natural butters because it is flavorful without additives.

Sonya Warwick, spokeswoman for New Mexico's largest food bank, declined to comment directly on the situation, but she noted that rescued food accounted for 74 percent of what Roadrunner Food Bank distributed across New Mexico last year.

"Our fleet picks up rescued food from hundreds of locations weekly and brings it back to the food bank," she said. "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."

Join the discussion

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Jack Adler March 28 2014 at 1:25 PM

SHAME, SHAME, so many needy people would appreciate it!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
fishingal0926 March 28 2014 at 1:24 PM

Unclear - WHO exactly "didn't agree" to allow it to be donated? Costco?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Angel fishingal0926 March 28 2014 at 1:38 PM

According to the article, it was Costco. Bummer.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
sheila March 28 2014 at 1:22 PM

That is disgusting! That could have been used for homeless, or battered women's shelters, any charity! I will NOT be doing ANY business with Costco EVER!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Eileen March 28 2014 at 1:21 PM

Good thing they are out of business or we would have to boycott the idiots... And then they would really be out of business...

Flag Reply +1 rate up
sbgrammyb1 March 28 2014 at 1:20 PM

Only in America!:(

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Barbi Liposchak March 28 2014 at 1:26 PM

SHAME ON THEM!! I volunteer for Second Harvest Food Bank and peanut butter is one of our main staples. Volunteers at all food banks would have checked every jar of that for leaks and given the good ones to hungry people in america. Its all about money, not about helping. Again, SHAME ON THEM!!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
ryanwking March 28 2014 at 1:19 PM

Wasteful! If the health and safety people claim it's safe, then donate it! It may not have the best ingredients, but if it's not spoiled or whatever, it should be just fine! WASTEFUL. These people are so dumb...

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
mdrcollection ryanwking March 28 2014 at 1:29 PM

There's too much liability. The Costco people aren't dumb. All it takes is for one person to get sick, or CLAIM to have gotten sick on the product, and file suit. Even if the pb was free. Even a frivolous suit can cost a company up to $100,000 defending itself. Finally--if a jar leaks oil: If oil can get out, contamination can get in. And th3e fact that the company had a history of selling pb with salmonella puts Costco at even more risk. That's the way the world works, unfotunately.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
jenleake March 28 2014 at 1:18 PM

Perhaps they are afraid that some lawyer will sue them if they donate the peanut butter and there is a problem. It's the sue-happy society of ours that is the real culprit here.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
ngbiker1 jenleake March 28 2014 at 1:21 PM

it's the too many lawyers in this country. that's the real problem!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Lisiduna ngbiker1 March 28 2014 at 1:34 PM

Lawyers don't sue people, people sue people.

Flag +1 rate up
piknplundr March 28 2014 at 1:14 PM

What a shame. That about of peanut butter would feed a lot of people. I guess Costco is afraid it will be sued. I wish they would reconsider.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
regybear March 28 2014 at 1:24 PM

I'm sorry but this could only happen in America at the hands of American industry..........I spent nine years in the Middle East and as bad as things got this level of waste never happened. It was unimaginable. Except to us.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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