Peanut Salmonella Outbreak in the Spotlight Again

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is seeking information from the Obama administration about an investigation into the <"">Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) Salmonella debacle in which peanut products distributed across the country sickened thousands, impacted most of the states and Canada, and resulted in a number of deaths. At last count, half of those infected were under age 16, while more than one in four cases was under the age of five. The list of recalled foods made with PCA products topped 3,500 and left hundreds ill with Salmonella Infection; nine people died in the historic Food Poisoning outbreak.

Senator Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking information on the probe into PCA and its chief executive officer, Stewart Parnell, wrote Oregon Live.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found proof that PCA was aware it was distributing Salmonella-contaminated products and actually sought out a laboratory to provide negative test results despite that tests confirmed contamination with the Salmonella Bacteria, said Oregon Live.

As we’ve previously written, oversight of the PCA Georgia plant at the center of the outbreak was considered lax, at best, with the plant having been inspected by the state health department on 184 occasions since 2006, but with 114 of those inspections lasting under two hours. Not surprisingly, none of those inspections found evidence of the mold, cockroaches, and Salmonella Bacteria that was uncovered by the FDA when it investigated the plant last January.

A second PCA plant in Texas, which was closed because of deplorable conditions, had never been properly licensed. Yet, a state inspector who visited the plant on three occasions since 2005 actually indicated in his reports that the facility was licensed correctly. Stewart Parnell was the CEO of PCA during the massive scandal.

Parnell has never been charged with a crime, despite having testified that he was aware that the Salmonella Bacteria was detected at the Georgia plant, yet ordered products to ship knowing of the dangers. Reports are circulating that Parnell is working again, this time, “as a consultant for several peanut companies,” said My News 9 previously.

“I believe that it is critical for the Department of Justice to determine whether these actions rise to the level of criminal conduct.” Leahy wrote, quoted Oregon Live. Meanwhile, the status of the investigation is unclear and neither officials involved in the investigation nor Parnell will comment, said Oregon Live. PCA declared bankruptcy.

Salmonella-contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled; however, consumption of food contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria may cause the Foodborne Illness known as salmonellosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people infected with the Food Poisoning pathogen usually experience symptoms of Salmonella poisoning beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage.

Symptoms of Salmonella Poisoning include fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea and usually last 4 to 7 days. Most persons recover without antibiotic treatment; however, the diarrhea can be severe, and hospitalization may be required. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have more serious illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

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