One million jars of peanut butter were dumped in a landfill this week after Costco refused to take shipment of the product and declined requests that it be donated to food banks.
The peanut butter jars were dumped in a New Mexico landfill this week in order to expedite the sale of a peanut processing plant that went bankrupt after a 2012 salmonella outbreak.
Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said Sunland Inc. had no choice but to bury the peanut butter after being rebuffed by Costco Wholesale, which refused the shipment. The bankrupt company also proposed repackaging the peanut butter for sale to brokers who provide food to large institutions, like prisons, but the food chain refused that as well.
The destruction of the peanut butter was met with outrage among many, including groups working with the poor and homeless. MelidaJoy Pattison, executive director of the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, noted that it actually took more effort to dump the peanut butter than to donate it.
“Those trucks carrying it to the dump went right by the front door of my food bank,” she said. “It wasn’t like it would have been out of the way.”
The peanut butter had been sitting in a warehouse since the company filed for bankruptcy in the fall. The plant itself had been shut down by the Food & Drug Administration since 2012 after being linked to 41 salmonella cases in 20 states.
“Consumers can be assured that products will not leave this facility until we determine they have implemented preventive measures that are effective to produce safe products,” FDA Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor told media.
Though the food was deemed edible, Costco declared in unsellable because of leaky peanut oil.
The peanut butter dumped had a value estimated at $2.6 million.