Fight peanut panic with information

Published 9:24 pm Saturday, February 28, 2009

Too many people have opted against buying peanut butter and other peanut products based incomplete or inaccurate information. The recent Salmonella outbreak caused much unwarranted panic across the nation in relation to the peanut.

With consumers’ confidence in the peanut industry shaken by the actions of a company that produced less than 3 percent of the nation’s peanut products, Virginia peanut growers gathered this week to talk about how they will respond to the crisis in their industry. “Despite this one bad actor, this terrible company that did this, 97 percent of peanuts are fine,” Marie Fenn reminded the growers.

Fenn is the president and managing director of the National Peanut Board, which advocates on behalf of peanut growers throughout the United States.

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Officials are especially worried about the impact of negative publicity on the sales of peanut butter at the consumer level. Fenn said she and her associates have met and talked with retailers nationwide to reassure them and remind them of the FDA’s finding that “major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores have not been among the products recalled.”

The consumer worries about peanut butter safety have led to drastic impacts to peanut growers and shortages of the staple at food banks across Virginia. It’s unfortunate that one company has affected the entire peanut industry. But until consumers get good information, the industry will continue to struggle.