ConAgra increases food safety measures after recall

by Staff
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OMAHA — ConAgra Foods Inc. is taking action to reopen its Sylvester, Ga., plant, which was the source of the peanut butter products recalled due to Salmonella concerns.

The measures include appointing a food safety expert to a leadership position, thus consolidating responsibility of food safety initiatives and systems in one position. The company has named Paul A. Hall vice-president of global food safety. Mr. Hall most recently was with Matrix MicroScience Inc.

Another step the company is taking is forming a food safety advisory committee of independent third-party experts. The committee will be chaired by Dr. Michael Doyle, who is the director of the center for food safety at the University of Georgia.

"We are truly sorry for any harm that our peanut butter products caused and intend to resolve claims related to peanut butter fairly and expeditiously," said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer. "We will make significant investment in and changes to the manufacturing environment to ensure this situation does not occur again. We are committed to the highest possible standards of food safety throughout our operations and believe the measures we are outlining today will clearly strengthen that foundation."

ConAgra would like to reopen the Georgia facility in August, and other changes will include the installation of new machinery, technology and designs in the plant. Also this summer the company intends to ship Peter Pan peanut butter to retailers.

The company said it believes moisture entered the production process by mistake, which allowed for the growth of low levels of dormant Salmonella that were present from raw peanuts or peanut dust.

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