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DOJ Charges Peanut Executive With Fraud Over Salmonella Outbreak


The Department Of Justice (DOJ) Has Filed Felony Charges Against The Former Executive Of The Now Closed Peanut Corporation Of American And Three Former Employees Over The Salmonella Outbreak That Sickened Hundreds And Killed Nine.

Stewart Parnell, the former head of Peanut Corporation and America, and three of its employees are facing a 76-count indictment that includes charges that the group knew its peanut products were tainted with salmonella yet continued to release them into the public food supply on at least 12 occasions between 2007 and 2008. These products caused more than 700 people to become sick and killed nine others.

The DOJ accused the four of failing to notify customers of salmonella contamination after it was discovered through lab testing. The feds also accuse the defendants of lying about lab tests results or saying no tests had been performed when in fact, testing had shown salmonella infection, which lead to the salmonella outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reports. The DOJ “will not hesitate to pursue any person whose criminal conduct risks the safety of Americans who have done nothing more than eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Delery said

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The charges leveled against the company include wire fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and the introduction of adulterated foods into the market. The WSJ reports that Peanut Corporation of America sold contaminated peanut paste and peanut better to companies that manufacture human and pet foods. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection after recalling more than 2,000 of its peanut products.

The son of a North Carolina woman who died after consuming tainted peanut butter told the Wall Street Journal that he was “ecstatic” about the charges being brought against the company. He said, “I was beginning to wonder if this day would ever come.”

Contaminated Food Outbreaks Lead FDA To Implement Stronger Guidelines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designed a new approach and stronger food safety guidelines following a wave of contaminated food outbreaks. In fact, since 2008, consumers have suffered four major tainted food outbreaks.

The WSJ and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report:

  • 2008- Peanut Corp. of America salmonella outbreak which killed 9 and sickened 700
  • 2010- Salmonella tainted eggs shipped from Iowa sickened 1,900
  • 2011- Listeriosis tainted cantaloupes shipped from Colorado cantaloupes killed 33 people
  • 2012 – Sunland Inc., peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella which sickened 42 people

Currently the feds are continuing their investigation into the Iowa eggs and Colorado cantaloupe outbreaks. Sunland Inc. has been closed until their food safety issues are corrected.

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