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posted by n1 on Monday March 31 2014, @04:20PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cant-make-profit-so-no-one-gets-benefit dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Costco will dump almost one million jars of peanut butter into a New Mexico landfill and bulldoze over them after retailer Costco refused to take shipment of the peanut butter and declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food to institutions like prisons. The peanut butter comes from a bankrupt peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a salmonella outbreak in 2012 and although "all parties agreed there's nothing wrong with the peanut butter from a health and safety issue," court records show that on a 19 March conference call Costco said "it would not agree to any disposition ... other than destruction."

Despite the peanut butter being safe, Curry County landfill employee Tim Stacy says that no one will be able to consume the peanut butter once it's dumped because it was immediately rolled over with a bulldozer, destroying the supply. Stacy added more trash will then be dumped on top of the pile. Sonya Warwick, spokeswoman for New Mexico's largest food bank, declined to comment directly on the situation, but she noted that rescued food accounted for 74% of what Roadrunner Food Bank distributed across New Mexico last year. "Access to rescued food allows us to provide a more well-rounded and balanced meal to New Mexicans experiencing hunger." No word yet on where anyone was going to find a million jars of jelly.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by githaron on Monday March 31 2014, @04:30PM

    by githaron (581) on Monday March 31 2014, @04:30PM (#23635)

    I am guessing they are trying avoiding lawsuits in the event that someone ended up getting sick.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by tempest on Monday March 31 2014, @04:45PM

      by tempest (3050) on Monday March 31 2014, @04:45PM (#23645)

      Isn't there a way legally they could sign off responsibility to whoever takes it? (assuming it's fed to humans).

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by geb on Monday March 31 2014, @05:14PM

        by geb (529) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:14PM (#23661)

        I'm no expert on contracts/waivers in the US system, but even if there was an ironclad method to avoid liability, that won't stop the biggest problem which is damage to the brand and public image.

        It just doesn't look good to publically say "We tried to warn them of the risk, all the other jars are fine!"

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:51PM (#23650)

      I actually agree with the parent. Every single jar of peanut butter is a lawsuit waiting to happen, even if they give it away. Even if it's tested safe, Costco still assumes partial liability by handing that peanut butter over to the public. You could repurpose the lot into fertilizer or compost, but it's cheaper to bury the lot.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:35PM (#23636)

    The failed it because it didn't pass their QC tests (too much oil separation or something). So they had two choices: destroy it, or give substandard food to the poor. They'd get bad press either way. Given that the stuff also came from a factory with a history of unsafe foods, I think they made a fair choice.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:38PM (#23641)

      Oil separation is often regarded as a FEATURE of "natural" style peanut butters. Unless it was leaking out of the jars, this should have been a non-issue.

      As a HUGE Costco fan, I'm hoping there is more to their side of the story. Costco is usually cited as one of the "good guys" in corporate citizenship.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Monday March 31 2014, @05:58PM

      by VLM (445) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:58PM (#23683)

      Binary FAIL. Feed it to pigs (porcine, not police). If the pig pukes, well, we make a lot of money by looking the other way when people treat livestock a heck of a lot worse. If it doesn't puke, every 10 pounds of peanut butter fed to the pig makes another pound of pork, or whatever the ratio. Being nearly pure oil/fat/protein I'd think a pound of peanut butter would achieve half a pound of pork, but who knows.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GeminiDomino on Monday March 31 2014, @08:49PM

        by GeminiDomino (661) on Monday March 31 2014, @08:49PM (#23748)

        Except I don't see any indication that anyone else stepped forward to take a million jars of possibly tainted peanut butter off their hands. The linked story just seems to be about a food bank getting butthurt that they didn't get it.

        I'm not satisfied with the information out there on the whole issue (or non-issue, as the case may be), but Costco has one fact on its side: you don't fuck around with salmonella...

        --
        "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 31 2014, @09:13PM

          by VLM (445) on Monday March 31 2014, @09:13PM (#23764)

          I have a veterinary question, does salmonella matter if you're force feeding livestock antibiotics anyway? Or rephrased is it possible to get food poisoning if you're on antibiotics that would cure food poisoning were you to be exposed? So if it was medically impossible to give (non-organic) pigs salmonella, then there wouldn't even be any moral, ethical, or economic dangers of Fing around with salmonella. We certainly pump livestock full of weird hormones and antibiotics for any other random reason, so a million jars of food seems quite reasonable in comparison. Its interesting to think about.

          • (Score: 2) by GeminiDomino on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:35AM

            by GeminiDomino (661) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:35AM (#23844)

            Not really all that interesting, since there still hasn't been any evidence that any pig farmers offered to take it in the first place. It's all speculation mental wankery. Sure, there are geeks all over the world who could figure out what to do with 750k lbs of toxic peanut butter, from feeding pigs to patching holes in the space station or whatever. Doesn't matter, since no one asked.

            --
            "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday April 01 2014, @12:28PM

              by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @12:28PM (#24068)

              "It's all speculation mental wankery."

              I like that line, it made me laugh. I know the mods have discussed selecting a new name and motto instead of the tired "soylent" schtick and you may be the first to articulate this sites new motto. Not entirely kidding either.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01 2014, @05:32PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01 2014, @05:32PM (#24345)

                I'd leave out the first part. It doesn't flow, and "speculative" wouldn't improve it much.

                Just "Mental Wankery" is pretty good.

      • (Score: 1) by jasassin on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:16AM

        by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:16AM (#23837) Journal

        At first I thought, right on! Then I imagined some poor bastard cracking open a million jars of peanut butter and spatula slinging peanut butter into a pig trough.

        --
        jasassin@gmail.com Key fingerprint = 0644 173D 8EED AB73 C2A6 B363 8A70 579B B6A7 02CA
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday April 01 2014, @12:23PM

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @12:23PM (#24065)

          You could mildly heat the jars so it flows, and then centrifuge fast enough to get 95% of it out of the jars but not break the jars.

          You'll have to figure out what to do with the empty jars, anyway. If they're glass, and you dumped them in the ocean, would they create an artificial reef for little fish to breed or just be a waste dump (or both?)

          Google makes all this self driving car junk that no one's ever going to widely use for legal liability reasons, but the same smart guys could program a COTS industrial robot to pick up a jar and spatula out the pigfood. Its about the same class of semi real time camera-articulator coordination along with some heuristics and image identification.

          One problem I had not considered is aged out oils which are rancid smell and taste awful, so unless they're really hungry pigs might not go for it. May be stuck composting. Which will still require the robot emptier.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:35PM (#23637)

    Seriously?

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:52PM (#23651)
      We seem to be duplicating the most irrelevant stuff from that other site [slashdot.org].
    • (Score: 2) by lx on Monday March 31 2014, @04:54PM

      by lx (1915) on Monday March 31 2014, @04:54PM (#23654)

      Seriously.
      As you may notice this is not the nerd site. This site ...is people!

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Vanderhoth on Monday March 31 2014, @05:00PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:00PM (#23656)

        Actually that's one of the things I like most about this site. Although we have a focus on tech, there is still a lot going on in the world that's also of interest to many of us. If you don't feel a story is relevant to you, then don't read it. Enough with the "ZOMG I WASTED 30 SECONDS READING A SUMMARY!!!"

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 1) by mrchew1982 on Tuesday April 01 2014, @04:37AM

          by mrchew1982 (3565) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @04:37AM (#23900)

          hear, hear!

          Even better than that, parse the headline and move on if it doesn't interest you. It's not like we're handing out merit badges or anything for commenting on every story. There is no possible way to please every single person that views this site, we all have different filters.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Tork on Monday March 31 2014, @06:05PM

      by Tork (3914) on Monday March 31 2014, @06:05PM (#23685)
      Part of being a nerd is being better educated. If something seems weird but you know why it isn't, you're more nerdy for the experience. If you just sit there with your arms crossed, shaking your head, and saying the world is stupid, then you're only a lowly geek.
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by song-of-the-pogo on Monday March 31 2014, @04:37PM

    by song-of-the-pogo (1315) on Monday March 31 2014, @04:37PM (#23639) Homepage Journal

    As a lover of peanut butter and a Costco "member", this is disappointing news and I find myself wondering about the motivation. I'm guessing that it's a matter of corporate CYA, hedging some bad publicity now is better than the risk of having something turn up wrong with the peanut butter down the road and then having to deal with a "Costco knowingly foisted peanut butter from a tainted plant on poor people and now 7 have died" and the undoubtedly ensuing lawsuits. If my fantasy-imaginings are anything close to what actually happened, though, I feel like they could've/might've/should've tried a little harder to come up with a better solution.

    --
    "We have met the enemy and he is us."
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Monday March 31 2014, @06:06PM

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 31 2014, @06:06PM (#23687)

      From reading the peanut butter was no where near safe enough to distribute. Too many questions about the facility which had problems and has been shut down since 2012.

      As another poster pointed out that means the peanut butter is at least two years old. Combine that with questions about the seals on the jars.

      The only safe decision here was destruction and to not let the peanut butter be consumed by humans. If anyone is at fault for the waste it would be that original facility for producing so much product not safe for consumption.

      Remember, this is the corporation that plays a huge efficiency game in selling great hot dogs at $1.50 (?) and not letting the price go up. I think they are already conscious about the environment, waste, and donating to shelters.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by song-of-the-pogo on Monday March 31 2014, @07:37PM

        by song-of-the-pogo (1315) on Monday March 31 2014, @07:37PM (#23720) Homepage Journal

        You're correct. Further reading indicates that Costco is making the correct decision here.

        --
        "We have met the enemy and he is us."
        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday March 31 2014, @09:47PM

          by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday March 31 2014, @09:47PM (#23773) Homepage
          Not RTFA, why can't it be used as fuel? What in it doesn't burn?
          Then again, 25 tons is bugger all, in the grand scheme of things.
          --
          I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:26AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:26AM (#24628)

            Some electrical generation facilities mix in garbage with what they normally burn.
            I image this stuff wouldn't do any worse than that other stuff.
            I really hate wastefulness.

            ...and wouldn't it have been great if TFS had mentioned the seals on the jars being crap?
            ...rather than dishonestly saying "Despite the peanut butter being safe".

            -- gewg_

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:42PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:42PM (#23642)

    being force fed the same rotting peanut butter for days without end, by the sticky bandits.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:43PM (#23644)

    The company shut down in 2012. These were produced prior to the company's closure. This is probably not safe for human consumption at this point.

    Consumer peanut butter's got a shelf life of roughly a year or two at most, generally. This stuff is on the edge of that point, if not past. A million jars of peanut butter being donated would probably sit on the shelves in a home being eaten over the course of a few months, which definitely puts it past the point where the peanut oil may begin going rancid -- and that's not accounting for all the jars that will sit in storage, probably for months if not years, waiting to be given out.

    Donated food is usually donated because something was mislabelled or a pallet came loose and it wasn't suitable for sale due to damage to the container that doesn't jeopardize the product itself. This has been in storage for years. This is not suitable for donation, this is a bunch of jerks trying to make themselves look good and try to drum up donations while making a company that HAS given them donations in the past look bad because they're not giving them donations right now.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by tristram on Monday March 31 2014, @05:56PM

      by tristram (836) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:56PM (#23682)

      Yum, yum, recycled comments! [slashdot.org] I knew this comment sounded familiar. (And this particular comment has been thoroughly corrected on slashdot.) You know there's no point in karma whoring with an anonymous account, right?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:46PM (#23646)

    Be it future generations on archeological digs or some other entity examing our time, doubtless the future will see this as one of the dark ages. The waste alone is shamefull. I understand Costco's move, if they are worried about litigation, but wasted food always makes me feel bad. I wish there was a better way to dispose of this, or perhaps avoid disposal altogether. If we had more local businesses, food producers, and farms--then perhaps mega-food production would not be needed. The place I go to for peanut butter, crushes the penuts in a machine right in front of me. About as fresh as it gets with no added salts, oils or preservatives. An independnt shop run by an old lady that sells dried foods, nuts, olives, spices, and such. No waste in this sort of place. We need more of this and less of Costco.

    • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @05:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @05:55PM (#23679)

      > I wish there was a better way to dispose of this
      pigs

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by gmby on Monday March 31 2014, @07:27PM

      by gmby (83) on Monday March 31 2014, @07:27PM (#23716)

      Make Biofuel out of it.

      --
      Bye /. and thanks for all the fish.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @04:48PM (#23649)

    Back in the day (1980s), I helped run an emergency food pantry in Southern California. At the time, Sol Price (founder of Price Club, which I believe is one of the constituent chains that merged to become CostCo) donated pallets of dried milk to us to redistribute. In general, these were pallets where there had been damage, so some of the packages were not usable - the vast majority of the packages, however, were fine.

    At our pantry, that donation made up a substantial part of what we gave out to people, especially those with children.

    I always thought it was both generous and great business sense for them to donate that food. After all, Price Club got a tax write off, there was less waste, and the hungry people got food without it impacting Price Club's sales.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by GlennC on Monday March 31 2014, @05:05PM

    by GlennC (3656) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:05PM (#23658)

    The problem isn't that the oil is separating. That's to be expected in natural peanut butter, although some of the food bank recipients may not realize it.

    The problem is that the oil is leaking from the jars. That shows that the jars are unsealed, which increases the risk of the peanut butter going bad. If enough of the lot was leaking, the odds are that most of the seals are bad.

    The risk was judged to not be worth the cost.

    --
    Sorry folks...the world is bigger and more varied than you want it to be. Deal with it.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Covalent on Monday March 31 2014, @05:11PM

    by Covalent (43) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:11PM (#23659) Journal

    They should have donated the peanut butter to a green energy group. Have them sign the appropriate paperwork to ensure the stuff doesn't get eaten (they did the right thing there - no sense getting anyone sick when peanut butter is so abundant and cheap). Pour the peanut oil off the top - 1 million jars of peanut butter probably makes enough biodiesel to run a school bus for a month. Compost the remaining PB - 1 million jars of peanut butter probably makes enough compost to fertilize the gardens of dozens of hippies. Recycle the jars - 1 million jars of peanut butter probably contains enough plastic to save 2 barrels of oil.

    The newsworthy nature of "CostCo turns lemons into a cleaner environment" would have been totally worth the trouble.

    --
    You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday March 31 2014, @05:52PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 31 2014, @05:52PM (#23678)

      if you can't open a peanut bag in a plane without some going into shock, what's the result of spreading it around, burying it, or composting it, or biodieseling it?
      I don't know how the "bad stuff" disseminates in each of these cases.

      I can already see a B-series movie about a toxic peanut butter cloud (or monster) coming out of that dump.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by emg on Monday March 31 2014, @06:57PM

        by emg (3464) on Monday March 31 2014, @06:57PM (#23709)

        "I can already see a B-series movie about a toxic peanut butter cloud (or monster) coming out of that dump."

        It's on the SyFy channel this weekend, isn't it?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by snick on Monday March 31 2014, @06:14PM

      by snick (1408) on Monday March 31 2014, @06:14PM (#23691)

      You seem to have the benefit side covered, now how much would it cost to open 1 million jars, pour off 1 million oil slicks, scrape out 1 million peanut-turds, store, transport and recycle all these components?

      And who is paying?

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Covalent on Monday March 31 2014, @06:57PM

        by Covalent (43) on Monday March 31 2014, @06:57PM (#23708) Journal

        The same people who are paying to haul all that away and drive the bulldozers and pay for the landfill space and the fill dirt to go over top of it and the insurance for the guys who do it and and and...

        CostCo, of course. :)

        The biodiesel alone might be valuable enough to cover the costs, fwiw.

        --
        You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by snick on Monday March 31 2014, @09:53PM

          by snick (1408) on Monday March 31 2014, @09:53PM (#23774)

          I seriously doubt that 1/8 cup of peanut oil will cover than handling of a jar.

          The hauling costs ($60,000 for driving the whole mess to the dump) would be significantly higher if you separated into 3 different components and hauled each its own direction. It would probably cost $60,000 just to get the full jars to the separation facility and then $XX,000 to haul the components to their destinations.

          They didn't mention the dumping fee (which must have been significant) But you aren't mentioning the cost of figuring out how to compost the brick-like slugs of peanut-paste that you get when you don't stir the oil back into the peanut butter, or the costs of recycling the plastic.

          I don't know what the numbers are, but I don't have your optimism that this would all pay for itself.

        • (Score: 1) by qwerty on Monday March 31 2014, @10:50PM

          by qwerty (861) on Monday March 31 2014, @10:50PM (#23799) Homepage

          Someone like (the late) Clarence Birdseye would take a look at this problem and turn it into a business opportunity. He was intrigued with finding practical money-making methods for turning waste and offcuts into useful products.

          Maybe he could use this snippet from the "Peanut Butter" page on Wikipedia: "The oils found in peanut butter are known to allow chewing gum to be removed from hair."

  • (Score: 2) by BradTheGeek on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:24AM

    by BradTheGeek (450) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:24AM (#23841)

    In a couple of eons, that might make a very small coal seam.