Food Processing Company Cheating on Safety Testing

A Georgia food processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak shipped thousands of pounds of peanut products after learning its products were contaminated and cheated on testing, a former plant manager testified Monday.Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others. shipped peanuts to companies in Missouri, Illinois and other points after receiving laboratory warnings that product samples had tested positive for salmonella. In other instances, the company cheated on safety testing by switching samples, Lightsey said. In one instance, company records show the firm requested testing on a sample of peanut paste made for Kellogg’s before plant workers actually made the paste. examined photographs showing evidence of water leaks and sanitation problems inside the plant. Salmonella can be spread when outside water carrying contaminants seeps into a food processing facility. The photographs showed mold and mildew, water stains under a vent in a packaging room and condensation around plant fans. workers kept a pellet gun inside the facility so they could shoot birds that got inside. multiple areas in the plant were leaking,” workers would cover food products with plastic to keep them dry. Prosecutors accuse Parnell and his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, of shipping contaminated peanut products used in foods including peanut butter crackers, ice cream and candied apples. They also say the brothers covered up tests that confirmed the presence of salmonella in their shipments. Stewart Parnell and the Georgia plant’s quality assurance manager, Mary Wilkerson, are also charged with obstructing justice. Lightsey, who pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts.

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