Georgia processor knowingly sold salmonella-tainted peanut paste
Federal officials disclosed on January 28 that the Peanut Corporation of America, which is responsible for the salmonella outbreak that has killed 8 and made more than 500 people ill, had "knowingly shipped contaminated peanut butter 12 times in the past two years". The Company had conducted internal testing and found salmonella in its product throughout 2007 and 2008, but continued to sell it to Kellogg and McKee Foods (Little Debbie) and hundreds of others.
Investigators have now identified four different strains of salmonella at the plant, along with a history of "a pattern of unsanitary conditions over several years". Georgia inspectors, acting under contract with the FDA which never inspected the plant, had never run independent tests on the company's products and took little or no action to improve sanitation.
Stewart Parnell, the owner and president of the company, has refused to take calls since his factory was identified as the source of this outbreak. Apparently his history of putting profit ahead of conscience has finally come home to roost. The salmonella outbreak has now infected consumers in 43 states and Canada, and half of the victims have been children. Federal regulators suggested that the company may face criminal charges, however, that does little to alleviate the suffering that greed, carelessness and bureaucratic passivity have caused to more than 500 families.