Peanut co. owner urged shipping bad products
WASHINGTON - The owner of a peanut company urged his workers to ship tainted products after receiving test results identifying salmonella, according to internal company e-mails disclosed Wednesday by a House committee.
The company e-mails obtained by the House panel showed that Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell ordered the shipments tainted with the bacteria because he was worried about lost sales.
Parnell was ordered by subpoena to appear before Congress on Wednesday to discuss the outbreak that has led to 600 illnesses, eight deaths and one of the largest recalls in history, more than 1,800 products pulled. His Georgia plant is blamed for the outbreak.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., revealed the internal correspondence from the company during a House Energy and Commerce hearing.
In prepared testimony, a laboratory owner told the House panel that the peanut company's disregard for tests identifying salmonella in its product is "virtually unheard of" in the nation's food industry and should prompt efforts to increase federal oversight of product safety.
Charles Deibel, president of Deibel Laboratories Inc., said his company was among those that tested Peanut Corp. of America's products and notified the Georgia plant that salmonella was found in some of its peanut stock. Peanut Corp. sold the products anyway, according to a Food and Drug Administration inspection report.
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