Food Company May Have Knowingly Shipped Tainted Peanut Butter

Investigators say processor linked to salmonella outbreak distributed products even after its own tests revealed contamination. The Food and Drug Administration faulted Sunland Inc., the nation’s largest organic peanut butter processor. It has recalled hundreds of nuts and nut butters since one of its products, Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter, was linked to 41 salmonella illnesses around the U.S. in September. The FDA said that over the past three years, Sunland’s tests showed products were shipped even though portions of their production runs tested positive for salmonella. In other cases, the agency found that the internal tests failed to find salmonella that was present. Company officials deny knowingly shipping tainted products. The Associated Press

Critics warn increasing safety problems are likely as the nation’s pipelines age. Already, America’s 2.5 million miles of pipelines suffer hundreds of leaks and ruptures every year. Since 1986, pipeline accidents have killed more than 500 people, injured over 4,000, and cost nearly seven billion dollars in property damages. With more than half of the nation’s pipelines now at least 50 years old, the concern is that problems will worsen. The bulk of government monitoring and enforcement falls to a small agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. But it requires only 7 percent of natural gas lines and 44 percent of all hazardous liquid lines be subject to their rigorous inspection criteria and inspected regularly. ProPublica

Poor, largely minority communities hurt most by coal plant pollution, report says. The assessment by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reviewed all 378 U.S. coal-fired power plants and gave 75 a failing grade for environmental impact. The report found that the six million Americans living within three miles of coal plants have a per capita income of $18,400 per year, and 39 percent are people of color. Coal plants are large emitters of mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide. The pollution is linked to asthma attacks, heart problems and other diseases. Separately, a federal loophole allows oil and gas drillers to dump toxic wastes on the tribal lands of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.  The Daily Climate, NPR 

FedEx and UPS targeted in criminal probe. The nation’s two largest shipping companies said they are under investigation by U.S. authorities regarding their dealings with online pharmacies at the center of a broadening international crackdown on prescription drug abuse. Since 2005, dozens of arrests have been made and thousands of online pharmacy websites shut down. Last year Google agreed to pay $500 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that it profited from ads for illegal online pharmacies. UPS said it was contacted by Justice Department authorities in San Francisco, where a  jury Thursday convicted three men of operating illegal pharmacies that used FedEx and UPS to deliver drugs. A FedEx spokesman called the probe “absurd.” The Associated Press

Two Texas employers cited for workplace safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused Vann Energy Services of 13 violations — including three repeat and two willful violations, the agency’s most serious offense — for allegedly exposing workers in Nixon, Texas to flash fires and other hazards. OSHA inspected after an oil and gas field tank fire erupted, hurting two workers. It proposed penalties of $246,000. Separately, OSHA cited Williams & Davis Boilers for nine violations — including four repeat and one willful — for continuing to expose workers to fall and other hazards at the company’s operation in Hutchins, Texas. The agency proposed penalties totaling $131,670. OSHA

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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