With the difficult economy and the recent salmonella crisis causing fear and confusion among consumers - and a heavy blow to peanut farmers across the country -- members of the United Peanut Alliance sent a letter to President Obama this week asking for a meeting and help in clearing up misperceptions about peanut butter on store shelves. In the letter, the growers also articulate their support for legislation designed to shore up the food safety program.
"The recent salmonella crisis and recall was caused by the reprehensible actions of one manufacturer. Peanut growers continue to be appalled and outraged by the facts that appear to demonstrate the manufacturer's complete disregard for food safety and public safety. We applaud and encourage the efforts being made to improve the safety of all foods that has been precipitated by this latest crisis," said Jimbo Grissom, Chairman of the Western Peanut Growers Association, which is a member of the United Peanut Alliance representing peanut farmers from New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
In the letter, the growers go on to say that it is important for consumers to understand that the peanut butter they purchase at the grocery store to make sandwiches for their children was not affected by this crisis, citing the Food and Drug Administration. Grissom emphasizes that the recall did not include retail peanut butter, which has been and continues to be a safe, affordable and nutritious choice.
Appealing to the President, Grissom explains that a quote attributed to Obama and run by several publications may have been misinterpreted by many. The President is quoted as saying; Sasha "has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch."
Grissom, a father of two, said, "We are honored that the first family are devoted consumers of peanut butter, but we want to make sure that your statements do not lead Americans to believe that the peanut butter on their supermarket shelves is unsafe. This is not the case," said Grissom.
Peanut farmers and the entire peanut industry, already under severe economic stress, stand to lose thousands of jobs and millions of dollars as a result of the unfortunate actions of one manufacturer.
The group asks the president for a meeting to share an update on the status of the crisis and to demonstrate peanut farmers’ commitment to the safety of all peanuts and peanut products.
An Open Letter from America's Peanut Farmers to consumers ran in USA Today on February 25, 2009. Peanut farmers across the country are working to reach consumers with the information they need to rebuild the trust they have developed with this iconic American food.
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