Justice Department Targets Peanut Corp. Execs For Food Safety Risks

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The Justice Department has indicted four peanut company executives who they claim knew about the potential for Salmonella contamination within products yet continued to produce and ships those items to the general public.  As a result, 700 people were forced to deal with a Salmonella-based illness in 2009 that led to one of the largest food recalls ever issued.

Federal regulators were able to trace the Salmonella contamination back to Peanut Corp. of America, a company based in Blakely, Georgia.  Although the business has been shuttered in the ensuing timeframe, the investigation continued on, and a couple weeks ago found officials alleging that the executives were culpable for the countywide outbreak of foodborne illness.

Emails purports to show the executives acknowledging positive Salmonella results of food products yet telling employees to continue with production anyway.  The Justice Department says that the executives even went so far as to forge documents to hide positive results of Salmonella.  In some instances, tests are alleged to have not even been carried out.  The executives are also accused of not warning consumers of the danger and not making the Salmonella threat known to FDA inspectors.

If these charges stick, the executives in question could face two decades in prison.  Attorneys for the company’s owner have vowed to fight the charges.

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