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More Peanut Corp. Salmonella Cases Reported

Mar 4, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP While the number of salmonella cases linked to tainted Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) products reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has dropped off slightly, the outbreak is still continuing.   So far, 677 people have been sickened and nine have died  in the outbreak.  Recalls involving products made with tainted-PCA products have exceeded 2,800.

In January,  the salmonella outbreak was traced to PCA’s plant in Blakely, Georgia, resulting in its closure.  Food & Drug Administration (FDA) inspections there found that the company knowingly shipped products from that plant that had tested positive for salmonella.  Emails revealed at a Congressional hearing showed that PCA owner Stewart Parnell had repeatedly urged his employees to do so.

In February, Texas health officials closed a PCA plant in Plainview after finding horrible conditions there, including  dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers in a crawl space above a production area.  Apparently,  the plant’s air handling system was pulling debris from the infested crawl space into production areas.

Because PCA made peanut paste, peanut butter and other ingredients for 85 other firms - including The Kellogg Company and General Mills - hundreds of  recalls have been issued.  PCA was forced to declare bankruptcy, and federal officials are conducting a criminal probe of the company.

According to a report on the CDC website, the outbreak began last September, and the most recent illnesses reported to the CDC began in early February.  According to the agency, more than half of the cases involve children.  More than 20 percent of the victims in this outbreak are under five.  Illnesses have been reported in 44 states.

According to the CDC, many newly-reported cases of PCA salmonella involved people who only recently ate a tainted product.  "FDA and CDC are concerned that illness will continue to occur if people eat recalled peanut-containing products that are still on their shelves at home," the CDC said on its website.

"Consumers should check at home for recalled peanut butter containing products and discard them," the CDC said.

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