Peanut Salmonella Recalls Top 1800Feb 11, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Salmonella Outbreak Linked To PCA
The colossal salmonella outbreak linked solely to one Peanut Company of America (PCA) plant located in Blakely, Georgia has resulted in over 1,800 peanut product recalls, said WebMD. The list, which is constantly being updated, can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) searchable database.
Although major jarred peanut butter brands are not yet included in the recall, hundreds of other products have been affected, reported WebMD. Meanwhile, the outbreak has taken a toll that continues to rise. No less than 600 people in 44 states and one person in Canada have been sickened by the Salmonella Typhimurium strain, said Web MD.
Fatalities Likely Linked To The Outbreak
Worse, the number of fatalities likely linked to the outbreak—originally quoted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at eight—has just increased and might be up to nine, the Associated Press (AP) is now reporting. It seems that Ohio officials announced that a woman who died earlier this year was infected with the same salmonella strain; officials are investigating to determine if a tainted peanut product was involved, said the AP. The CDC is also reporting, said WebMD, that the number of cases appeared to reach its highest peak in December; however, it is unable to deem the outbreak over since it can take up to a couple of weeks for a report of contamination to reach the CDC, said Web MD.
Of note, said WebMD, the outbreak was initially linked to PCA products distributed to institutions; stores were not thought to be involved. Since, PCA issued a press release that listed a variety of brands it had sold to consumers directly via retail stores in the past, thus widening the scope of the contamination. Although PCA said it has not sold direct to consumers in stores since 2007, the brands involved are Casey's, Parnell's Pride, Reggie, and Robinson Crusoe, which PCA said it sold to 99 Cent Stuff, 99 Cents Only Stores, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree stores.
WebMD also reported that Plainview Peanut Company, a PCA subsidiary, suspended operations at its Plainview, Texas plant while it undergoes state health investigations. WebMD pointed out that a statement on the Texas Department of State Health Services Website indicated that a private laboratory in contract with PCA revealed that salmonella was possibly detected in some of that plant’s products. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is also involved in the ever-growing scandal and is assisting with the FDA’s investigation of the Blakely, Georgia Plant with the Department of Justice conducting the criminal investigation of PCA.
Last month, FDA inspections at the Georgia plant found that PCA shipped peanuts that tested positive for salmonella contamination at least a dozen times in 2007 and 2008, and revealed roaches, mold, and a leaky roof. PCA officials also told the FDA that tainted peanuts it shipped had tested negative for salmonella in a second round of testing; however, the FDA reported on Friday that PCA actually shipped some of the peanuts before the second tests were completed. Also, other lots were shipped without testing and, in some cases, no second test was performed, even after the first one came back positive for salmonella.
PCA owner Stewart Parnell had been subpoenaed to testify today before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and although he appeared, he invoked his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.
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