Nov 26, 2012 9:04 PM by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations of the country's largest organic peanut butter processor, a day before the New Mexico plant was scheduled to reopen.
FDA officials found salmonella contamination at Sunland's Portales processing plant after 41 people in 20 states were sickened. The FDA suspended Sunland's registration Monday, preventing the company from producing or distributing any food.
The FDA says the suspension is the first under a 2011 food safety law that gives the agency new enforcement powers.
Sunland had voluntarily closed its plant after the September outbreak. The company hoped to resume selling peanut butter by the end of the year. Sunland's Katalin Coburn said FDA's decision to suspend the registration was a surprise to the company and Sunland officials had assumed they were allowed to resume operations.