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Peanut butter in the filings…

Right about now, a subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on how the peanut butter salmonella crisis has spun so out of control. It’s been nearly a month since the FDA announced its recall and according to this article the problem has impacted more than 220 different products.

Given how widespread this is, you’d expect all sorts of warnings to pop up in SEC filings. But that’s not exactly been the case. Hain Celestial (HAIN) said something brief about the recall in the 10Q it filed on Monday, noting that “These recalls by Peanut Corporation of American have caused the recall of certain of the Company’s products, specifically certain lot codes of a Health Valley granola bar and certain Ethnic Gourmet and Gluten Free Caf⟠frozen entrâŸes since they contain peanut ingredients sourced from PCA.” Ralcorp (RAH) also had a brief warning in the 10Q it filed last week, which included a note that “The financial impact of these recalls (including lost sales resulting from lower consumer demand for products containing peanut ingredients) cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, but is not expected to be material.” Nutrisystem (NTRI) was the first to warn, issuing this 8K just a week after the recall was announced.

But two other large companies — JM Smucker (SJM), which makes Jif, and Conagra (CAG), which makes Peter Pan, have been strangely silent on the issue in their respective filings. Granted, their most recent Qs came out before the scare, but given the high-profile nature of the problem — not to mention Conagra’s experience two years ago with its own salmonella peanut butter problems — one would think it might warrant a brief 8K. That Feb. 2007 recall has led to an unspecified number of lawsuits, according to the company’s most recent Q.

At the grocery store the other night, there was a poorly copied sign from the FDA that was taped up near the peanut butter shelves reminding people that jarred peanut butter wasn’t impacted. While I took the time to read it, I can’t imagine a lot of other folks are. Indeed, this article in USA Today notes that sales of jarred peanut butter are down 24% over the past month, even though jarred peanut butter is not impacted by the recall. Both companies have managed to ramp up their marketing, putting out coupons and even using Google (GOOG) AdWords to remind Internet users searching for news of the recall to “Be Safe and Eat Peter Pan”. So where’s those 8Ks?