About a year after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate the company, all the assets of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) were under the control of the bankruptcy court trustee. I managed to attach myself to one of the plaintiff lawyer teams that was allowed into the PCA peanut processing plant at Blakely, GA, to inspect the facility on behalf of their clients, who were victims of the outbreak. At the time I remember thinking that, if I had just been dropped into this giant building, I would have been entirely clueless as to what was going on there. If I did not know, my best guess would have been that the facility made machine parts or was some sort of tool-and-dye operation. Food? No way. I knew, of course, that the product made in that plant was peanut butter and paste. The food safety experts, forensic photographer, and civil engineer on the inspection team mostly just rolled their eyes at me when I kept asking, “Is this really possible?” This past week, Janet Gray, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official who headed up the inspection of the PCA plant once contaminated King Nut peanut butter was traced back to Blakely, testified that the facility “was not fit to produce products for human consumption.” As long as the trial continues, I’ve decided to use this Sunday space to chitchat about the events underway in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Albany. Word is it might take the government at least seven more weeks to finish putting on its case. This is a historic case. The Associated Press this week stated that, “… it’s the first time corporate officers and managers have gone to trial on federal charges in a food poisoning case.” To be completely accurate, I think you’d have to add the word “felony” to that statement. Nevertheless, something worth watching is happening in Albany, and it’s not just the music playing 24/7 at the monument for the birthplace of Ray Charles in the park. Gray was on the witness stand for 13 hours. She was the vessel the government used for documents and photographs, along with getting her testimony into the record. Her testimony was damaging to defendants Stewart Parnell, PCA’s owner and chief executive; Michael Parnell, the peanut broker, and Mary Wilkerson, the quality control manager at Blakely. But she did not escape without taking some hits from defense attorneys. FDA’s higher-ups apparently couldn’t resist interfering in Gray’s investigation. Her investigation stopped with plant manager Samuel Lightsey as a responsible party. FDA bosses made her add Stewart Parnell. Gray agreed, saying she just wanted to be backed up “when bullets start flying.” And, when testing she thought would be Salmonella-positive came back negative, she said it “stinks.” Defense attorney Thomas J. Bondurant said that was proof the FDA investigation was not unbiased. He depicted FDA melting from pressure by Congress and others. The other star witness last week was Samuel Lightsey, the former Blakely plant manager who, after reaching an agreement with government prosecutors, pleaded guilty last May to seven felony counts contained in the February 2013 indictment. In exchange for his cooperation, Lightsey’s jail time will not exceed six years. Lightsey told the jury how he joined PCA in July 2008 only to learn it was falsifying documents for customers, including some that failed to disclosure positive tests for Salmonella. He admitted allowing the practices to continue because he needed the job and because he did not think he was “intentionally hurting anyone.” Defense attorneys will get their shot at Lightsey when the trial continues tomorrow.