26 January 2009

Looks Like Class Action Time is Comin'

That plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America? the one in Blakely, Georgia? The one that produced Lord knows how many tons of salmonella-laced peanut butter? The one responsible for more than 500 people falling ill and eight people dying? Turns it it's not such a clean place, and it hasn't been for a while. Apparently the plant,
"has a history of sanitation lapses and was cited repeatedly in 2006 and 2007 for having dirty surfaces and grease residue and dirt buildup throughout the plant, according to health inspection reports. Inspection reports from 2008 found the plant repeatedly in violation of cleanliness standards" (NYT).
If you want some queasy details on what health inspectors found in 2007, and 2008, head for this New York Times article. One thing to wonder about: if the place consistently violated health codes, why the heck did Georgia, which "performs inspections on behalf of the FDA,"allow it to continue processing foods?

I smell a lawsuit in the works. . . .

Update: A class action lawsuit is most certainly in the works, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear of criminal action as well. According to Newsday, the Peanut Corporation of America "received tests from private labs revealing salmonella contamination in 2007, but then got further sampling showing the facility to be salmonella-free"Further, a federal inspection team "identified approximately 12 instances in 2007 and 2008 where the firm identified some type of salmonella ... in environmental samples," even so, "PCA still sent peanut butter and paste to unwitting customers." So the Peanut Corporation of America (which, by the way, has a second plant in Texas that continues to produce and ship peanut butter products) was aware of salmonella contamination two years ago, "did nothing to improve its manufacturing and sanitation practices after salmonella was found in its plant" (MSNBC), and continued to distribute their products for public consumption.

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