FDA: Plant shipped Salmonella-tainted product before receiving re-test results.

American Association for Justice
News Brief

The AP (2/7) reported, “A Georgia peanut plant knowingly shipped salmonella-laced products as far back as 2007, at times sending out tainted products after tests confirmed contamination, federal health officials said Friday.” Though the FDA had originally reported that Peanut Corp. of America had “waited for a second test to clear peanut butter and peanuts that earlier had tested positive for salmonella,” the agency amended that report Friday, adding that the plant “actually shipped some products before receiving the second test results and sold others after confirming salmonella.”

Warning signs were evident early for “ambitious” Peanut Corp. of America. The AP (2/7, Bluestein, Brumback) reported, “From school lunches to nutrition bars and ice cream, the nationwide salmonella outbreak has reached deep into the American food supply — even though many people had never heard of the small company at the center of the investigation until a few weeks ago.” Although PCA “has just a few plants scattered across the South…it may be responsible for one of the nation’s largest food recalls in history.” The AP notes that going back as far as 2001, “about nine months after Parnell bought the Georgia plant in 2001, potential insecticide contamination and dead insects were found near peanuts inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.” This was the beginning of a pattern of code violations, culminating in the inspection records released Friday by the FDA, showing that “in 2007 the company shipped chopped peanuts on July 18 and 24 after salmonella was confirmed by private lab tests.”

The New York Times (2/9, A1, Moss), carrying the peanut story above the fold on its front page for the second time in three days, leads with a brief summary of the findings of the FDA’s findings: Among other revelations, the New York Times notes that plant employees, many of whom “earned only minimum wage and had gone years without a raise,” said “they typically had advance knowledge of state inspections and that last month, when they were tipped off that federal investigators were coming, the employees were told not to answer questions.” The Wall Street Journal (2/7, Zhang), the Los Angeles Times (2/7, Maugh, Engel) and Bloomberg News (2/9, Gaouette) also covered the story.

Kellogg added to salmonella suit. The National Law Journal (2/9, Bronstad) reports, “The law firm that filed the first lawsuit over the recent salmonella outbreak in certain brands of peanut butter products has added the Kellogg Co. as a defendant.” The complaint “was filed last month on behalf of a Vermont couple, Gabrielle and Daryl Meunier, whose 7-year-old son became sick after eating peanut butter cracker sandwiches made by Kellogg from products of the Peanut Corp. of America, whose Georgia plant has been identified as the source of the contamination that led to the outbreak. Meunier v. Peanut Corp. of America, No. 1:09-cv-00012 (M.D. Ga.).”

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