Trial shines light on U.S. food safety
By Russ Bynum ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALBANY, Ga.— Jurors at the nation’s first federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly outbreak of food-borne illness are learning a disconcerting fact: America’s food safety largely depends on the honor system.
Witnesses say Stewart Parnell and others at Peanut Corp. of America knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted products, and that they sent customers lab results from other clean batches rather than wait for tests to confirm their products were free of deadly bacteria.
- Defense lawyers correctly noted for the jurors that salmonella tests aren’t required by federal law.
- Parnell and his two co-defendants face long prison sentences if convicted of knowingly shipping the contaminated peanut products linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that killed nine people, including two in Ohio, and sickened 714 in 2008 and 2009.
Their plant in rural Blakely, Ga., was shut down, and the company went bankrupt. Long after consumers ate contaminated peanut butter, ice cream, energy bars and other products, the outbreak prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.
- But Stewart Parnell; his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell; and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson aren’t charged with killing anybody.
The 76-count indictment instead accuses the Parnells of defrauding customers that used Peanut Corp.’s contaminated products as ingredients. Stewart Parnell and Wilkerson are charged with concealing information from federal investigators.
So this is our Federal Criminal justice system! And no conviction for all those deaths and sickened people who felt our FDA protected them from behavior like this. With a killer in the jars, only a bit of fraud? Why do we even have a program like the FDA. They are supposedly doing something over there to earn their horrendous salaries. They don’t make inspections; or do oversight; they don’t respond to public demand. The Honor system? If it weren’t so criminal, it could be a joke!.
Close their doors. Fire the lot of them. Start over with honest people committed to serving the people and the highest good, not the corporations with their greedy, one note mission of self service – to their bottom line. . whatever it takes. Jan)