Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Publisher’s Platform: Peanut Proud, But No Justice – Yet

I was reading Greg Phillip’s piece in the Dothan Eagle about the “Peanut Proud” celebration in Blakely, GA this weekend.  “Peanut Proud” even has a web page and a Facebook page.  I tried to follow on Twitter, but I could not find @peanutproud.  Perhaps they will have that next year.  Here is part of Greg’s story:

Blakeley.jpgThree years ago, things didn’t look rosy here.

Peanut Corp. of America issued a massive recall of its food products in early 2009 after a salmonella outbreak from its Blakely plant, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later finding the company knowingly distributed food tainted by salmonella.

Today, the peanut industry has recovered and Blakely has rallied.

This weekend’s celebration with entertainment, peanut royalty, etc., looks like a good time.  And, since I was in Blakely in 2009 (court-ordered inspection of crime scene), shortly after the announcement of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Salmonella outbreak, I know that Blakely and the peanut industry needs a boost.

I wonder, however, if there is any mention this weekend of the 714 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium reported from 46 states in 2009, or the nine who died?

According to the last update by the CDC, the number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), Arizona (14), Arkansas (6), California (81), Colorado (18), Connecticut (11), Florida (1), Georgia (6), Hawaii (6), Idaho (17), Illinois (12), Indiana (11), Iowa (3), Kansas (2), Kentucky (3), Louisiana (1), Maine (5), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (49), Michigan (38), Minnesota (44), Missouri (15), Mississippi (7), Montana (2), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (14), New Jersey (24), New York (34), Nevada (7), North Carolina (6), North Dakota (17), Ohio (102), Oklahoma (4), Oregon (15), Pennsylvania (19), Rhode Island (5), South Dakota (4), Tennessee (14), Texas (10), Utah (8), Vermont (4), Virginia (24), Washington (25), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (5), and Wyoming (2). Additionally, one ill person was reported from Canada.

Among the persons with confirmed, reported dates available, illnesses began between September 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. Patients range in age from <1 to 98 years. The median age of patients is 16 years which means that half of ill persons are younger than 16 years. 21% are age <5 years, 17% are >59 years. 48% of patients are female. Among persons with available information, 24% reported being hospitalized. Infection may have contributed to nine deaths: Idaho (1), Minnesota (3), North Carolina (1), Ohio (2), and Virginia (2).

My guess not.  I doubt there will be a mention of the 714 – likely many more – who were sickened, or even nine seconds of silence for the nine who died from peanuts processed within a stone’s throw of this weekend’s celebration.

SParnell.jpg

And, what about Stewart Parnell, the CEO of PCA?  In Blakely it is likely he is despised more for tainting the reputation of the town than for knowingly shipping tainted peanuts around the country and sickening several hundred and killing nine.

Three years since most of the 714 have recovered, and after nine have been buried, Stewart Parnell is still in Virginia and a free man. To date, although families have been promised that a criminal investigation is ongoing, there has been no criminal prosecution of the man who “took the Fifth” in front of one of the last Congressional Hearings on food safety.

It is past time that those sickened and the families of those who died have justice.

So, Blakely be “peanut proud” this weekend.  But join me in remembering the others impacted by Stewart Parnell and PCA.

© Food Safety News
  • First, I’m doing this twice because my eyes can NOT read the second word, any of them. Suggest a difference challenge style. But, I love Bill Marler and show all of my food safety/HACCP classes videos of Bill and send out notes about his activities. Perhaps the only one with a brain in the food safety industry. The government sure doesn’t have one. President Obama wants us to do better, but the “good ole boys” network won’t tell us which Mexican Restaurant Chain continues to have food safety problems (so maybe you shouldn’t eat there) and a town with a sordid history celebrates peanuts – maybe they should make the head of the health department there the Grand Marshall of the Parade. And as they parade past the plant, advise him that peanuts are food and thus should have been inspected. It’s a sad state of affairs. Thanks Bill for your great work. You make sense in a world that otherwise doesn’t.