U.S. Marshals have enforced a Food and Drug Administration warrant of a New Jersey-based company, Westco Fruit and Nuts Inc., after it refused to recall potentially tainted peanut products. The company, also known as Westcott, received peanuts and peanut products from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the Georgia-based company that spurred the giant recall of Salmonella-tainted peanuts back in January.
On March 23rd the FDA advised consumers to dispose of any peanut or peanut-containing products made or distributed by Westco or Westcott that they find in their homes. That same day it requested a formal recall of all Westco and Westcott products containing peanuts from PCA, and a few days later it requested access to some of its distribution records, but Westco refused to cooperate.
The FDA has the power to compel regulated companies to grant it entry for inspection and access to its records, hence the U.S. Marshals arrival at Westco HQ. But food recalls remain voluntary. “This is a terrific example of the perils of depending on companies to recall their potentially contaminated products and shows why FDA must be given mandatory recall authority,” says Elisa Odabashian, Director of Consumers Union's West Coast Office.
For more information about Consumers Union’s proposed reforms to protect our food supply, and to get involved, visit NotInMyFood.org.
—Kevin McCarthy, associate editor