Did Santa Ana Unified Serve Students Peanut Butter Sandwiches Possibly Contaminated With Salmonella Despite Company Recall?

Categories: Indigestion
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Coming on the heels of a Weekly exposé documenting how officials at the Santa Ana Unified School District let lettuce rot, then threw it away comes rumors that workers served peanut butter sandwich to students that was the subject of a recall due to possible salmonella contamination--this despite district officials knowing full well of the dangers of the peanut butter, having received a warning letter from the sandwich's producer.

On October 10, school districts across the country (including Santa Ana Unified) received a letter from David Thomas, vice president of quality assurance at J.M. Smuckers. In it, he warned customers that the company was pulling packages of the company's Unscrutables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made specifically for public-school lunches due to possible salmonella contamination, and urged districts who had already received such packages to do the same immediately.

"Please immediately examine your inventory and quarantine product subject to this recall," he wrote. "We request that you destroy any affected product that remains in your inventory."

But SAUSD officials in charge of food must've missed that memo. Sources told the Weekly that despite the warning, Uncrustables were delivered to schools and served by workers to students for two days after Thomas' memo. It wasn't until Oct. 12 that the directive came down to stop the practice: an email obtained by the Weekly shows field supervisor Artemisa Ayon writing "As of today, October 12, 2012, we are NOT (underline and caps hers) using ANY peanut butter product." Ayon sent this email in the afternoon, though, meaning students could've possibly been exposed to three days of recalled food products.

What the HELL is going on in the Central Kitchen of the Santa Ana Unified School District? My sources tell me that officials are going on a witch hunt to find out who's leaking all this info. Don't worry, whistleblowers: anonymity guaranteed here! Send your tips on ANY SAUSD shenanigans at garellano@ocweekly.com!

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