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article imagePeanut butter contamination, manager testifies against company

By Tim Sandle     Sep 4, 2014 in Crime
A trial is ongoing relating to peanut butter products contamination in the U.S., dating back to 2008 and 2009. This was one of the most serious food poisoning events in history. The prosecution argue that the company was negligent.
In late 2008 and early 2009, nine people died and at least 714 people in 46 states became ill due to food poisoning from eating products containing peanuts. Almost a quarter of those infected were hospitalized. A CDC investigation identified that the outbreak of illnesses was caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium . This was due to contaminated products: peanut butter, peanut paste, and peanut meal. The products were produced by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its Blakely, Georgia processing plant. This infection triggered the most extensive food recall ever in U.S. history.
Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) was a peanut-processing business founded in 1977 and headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia. The company was forced out of business after being found to be the source of a massive salmonella outbreak in the United States during 2008 and 2009. On February 13, 2009, Peanut Corporation of America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. At least a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed while the federal criminal investigation continues.
The federal investigation began on January 30, 2009 under the direction of the U.S. Justice Department , the investigation is for possible prosecution under provisions of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The owner of the former company, Stuart Parnell. is facing trial and up to 20 years imprisonment for fraud and conspiracy for knowingly shipping Salmonella-contaminated bulk peanut butter. It alleged that he ordered peanuts from off the floor be processed and batches that tested positive for Salmonella shipped to customers.
During the investigation, the former processing plant manager for Peanut Corporation, Samuel Lightsey, reached a plea agreement on May 8, 2014. According to New York Daily News, Lightsey is acting as a government as a witness. As the case proceeds, Lightsey is bringing many concerns to light. According to News Advance, Lightsey has said that the company had received documents that showed positive tests for Salmonella, however emails were sent by company employees to customers telling them to hold the product because of "inconclusive" tests. Lightsey also discussed evidence that water sometimes got into the company's product, which he said can lead to contamination.
This testimony tallies with the government charge that the company put profit before safety. The case continues.
More about Peanuts, Peanut butter, Trial, Salmonella, Salmonella contamination
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