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Three guilty in Salmonella peanut butter case

By Tim Sandle     Sep 24, 2014 in Crime
Albany - A jury has convicted a former peanut company owner, and two other executives, of conspiracy and fraud in a case stemming from a deadly Salmonella outbreak almost six years ago.
As reported by Digital Journal, 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. It is speculated that unreported cases topped 22,000. The peanuts were infected with the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. The peanut products were manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), based in Lynchburg, Virginia. The outbreak was one of the most deadly in U.S. history.
In the federal case, the prosecutors stated that the company took peanuts from off the floor and added them to batches of peanut products. It was also stated that many of the peanut products tested positive for Salmonella. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company was then accused of ignoring the results and shipping them to customers. In relation to this the prosecutors went as far to allege that company officials fabricated lab results entirely, stating peanut products were safe for consumption even when tests showed otherwise, or when tests had never been conducted at all. This led to the serious cases of food poisoning.
The case has reached its conclusion. According to CNN, a 12-member jury in Albany, Georgia found the company’s bosses guilty. Stewart Parnell was found guilty on 67 federal felony counts, Michael Parnell was found guilty on 30 counts, and Mary Wilkerson, the plant’s quality assurance manager, was found guilty of one of the two counts of obstruction of justice charged against her.
Sentences are set to passed. The Parnell brothers could be sentenced to more than 20 years in jail for knowingly shipping Salmonella contaminated peanut paste to commercial for product manufacturers.
Commuting on the outcome, Jaydee Hanson of the Center For Food Safety, told ABC News: “The message it sends is actually a pretty simple one: If you deliberately ship and sell contaminated food, there's now a good chance you might go to jail. That's good news. The bad news is deliberately shipping adulterated product is not what causes most of the salmonella outbreaks we've seen.”
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