Former Ga. peanut company officials charged in salmonella outbreak
WASHINGTON — Four former officials of the Peanut Corp. of America were named in a 75-count indictment on Thursday on charges related to salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut products.
The charges cap an inquiry that began in 2009 as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control traced a national outbreak of salmonella to a PCA plant in Blakely, Ga.
Named in the indictment: brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell, former PCA president and vice president; Samuel Lightsey, plant operations manager; and Mary Wilkerson, plant quality assurance manager.
The Parnell brothers and Lightsey have been charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce. Stewart Parnell and Wilkerson were charged with obstruction of justice.
“The indictment alleges that PCA officials affirmatively lied to their customers about the presence of salmonella in PCA's products,” said Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general.
Delery said some officials at PCA, no longer in business, fabricated lab results certifying to customers that the products were salmonella-free, “even when tests showed the presence of salmonella or when no tests had been done at all.”
The salmonella outbreak sickened 714 people in 46 states and may have contributed to nine deaths, the CDC reported. The illnesses began in January 2009 and led to one of the largest food recalls in history, involving thousands of products.
Lou Tousignant, whose father, Clifford Tousignant, died after eating contaminated peanut butter from PCA, said he has been waiting for four years for the results of the inquiry.
Tousignant said while there's been much movement on food safety with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, regulations aren't what will bring about change.
“If you knowingly do something and send it out and then go to prison — that will make people think twice,” Tousignant said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nurse defies Maine quarantine in standoff over Ebola
- Few knew of cyber attack on White House computer network
- Ferguson grand jury cleared in leaks about police shooting of black teenager
- Inmate freed in landmark case
- Terminally ill woman may delay planned Nov. 1 suicide
- Gray wolf sighting reported at Grand Canyon
- Botched probe of suspected arms dealer echoed Fast and Furious, watchdog finds
- Plane slams into pilot training center at Kansas airport, killing 4
- Hawaii’s National Guard sent to lava flow site
- Wash. shooting survivor has jaw surgery
- Museum saves part of bomber plant