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Parnell Off Federal Peanut Butter Board

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, February 06, 2009 11:07 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: PCA, Peanuts, Salmonella, Food Borne Illness, Public Health

Stewart Parnell taken off  department of agriculture board .

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IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons, salmonella, author: Nutloaf

 

It’s difficult to believe it hasn’t happened sooner, but there has already been a shakeup in new Department of Agriculture Peanut Standards Board.  

On Thursday, Barack Obama’s new Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, removed Stewart Parnell as a member of the board. 

Parnell is the president and CEO of Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), the company whose Blakely, Georgia plant has been identified as the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak. 

The board is staffed voluntarily and advises the Secretary of Agriculture on the handling standards for peanuts grown and marketed domestically as well as imported.  

Parnell has been on the board since 2005.

Banned From Business

Also on Thursday, Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Virginia was excluded from any role in federal government contracts as an agent or representative supplying peanut or peanut products to the federal government, according to the Department of Agriculture.  That suspension is to last one year.

In terms of the scope of the recall, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reminds us that the closest recall was in 2007 when 1,177 pet food products found with the industrial chemical, melamine were recalled.   The current peanut product recall due to salmonella amounts to more than 1,313 products.

The FDA tracks the products included in the recall and adds more daily. If you have any doubt, check the peanut product salmonella recall list on the agency’s Web site. 


Sickness

In terms of sickness, last summer’s salmonella outbreak due to peppers made about 1,200 people ill.  So far the current salmonella situation has sickened 575 and is linked, though not conclusively, to eight deaths.

Food banks are reminded to remove any peanut butter that comes with the name Parnell’s Pride or King Nut, sold in five pound jars up to more than 1.000 pounds.  Peanut butter sold at the retail level is not affected by the recalls. 
 

Prosecution

The state of Georgia, where the Blakely plant is located, has decided not to pursue reckless conduct and adulteration of food charges against the PCA plant. Those are misdemeanors and instead, the state will defer to the federal government for criminal prosecution.  

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told members of the FDA and CDC that he’d like to see company officials go to jail as a cost of doing business. “You give them a fine, well, it’s just the cost of doing business. But if somebody thinks they’re going to go to jail… that’s an entirely different thing,” as the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The plant had not had an FDA inspection since 2001, instead relying on state inspectors, who found various problems from 2006 to 2008, including salmonella contamination.

Speaking to regulators, members of Congress suggest that agencies need to talk to one another. The creation of an online database could allow physicians to enter information related to any national food borne illness. Forming one agency that oversees food safety is the leading proposed solution.#


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Michael Gregoire
Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:31 PM EST

I hope when the dust settles on this whole peanut crisis that Mr. Parnell is sent to jail for a very very very very long time.
He obviously thought more of his wallet then he did of anyone whom he may have deliberately poisoned.
I personally think that when criminal charges are brought against him that he should be charged with (at minimum) murder with depraved indifference.

Comments for this article are closed.

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