The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Peanut Recall

Peanut Recall

Shoppers and Trends

March 29, 2009

Nine people have died, hundreds have been sickened, and thousands of products have been recalled. When the salmonella outbreak in peanut products, traced back to a plant in Georgia, initially came to light, no one expected the storm that would follow. This massive recall of products has shaken up the nation’s confidence in our food supply and the controls that have been put in place by our government that have ultimately revealed themselves as not affective enough.

We surveyed our readers to see how their decision to purchase peanut products has been affected in light of this recent disaster. To begin with, we were not surprised to find out that 100% said they are aware of the recent peanut recall, and that the recall may include peanuts, peanut products, or peanut butter. Although with all of the media coverage, it would seem impossible to be unaware of such a huge recall, certain retailers can be applauded for their strong efforts to inform their shoppers with updates on the recall.

When asked, “Has the recall affected your decision to purchase peanuts or peanut products?” SupermarketGuru found that 74% said “yes”. And when it comes to candy or chocolate products containing peanuts or peanut butter, 70% said their purchasing decision has been affected.

As the food industry recovers from the salmonella scare, we wanted to know how past fears will affect their future purchasing decisions. When it comes to purchasing the following products, 69% of consumers responded that they will be wary when purchasing snack bars, cereals, or crackers with peanuts or peanut butter, 62% said the same for candy or chocolate with peanuts or peanut butter, 45% said likewise for peanut butter, 43% for peanuts (43%), and 25% said none of the above.

Lastly, even though jarred brand name peanut butter was not implicated in the recall, sales of this product category have been negatively affected. That means, in this instance, consumers interpreted jarred brand name peanut butter to be a risk when it wasn't. The food world can learn from these findings and better communicate safety messages to avoid future misunderstandings with consumers.