PCA distributed peanuts despite positive salmonella test, says FDA: Is jail time the answer?

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Can you believe the Peanut Corporation of America was sending out their products knowing they had a problem?

The PCA, of course, is responsible for the salmonella outbreak that has sickened closed to 600 and killed at least eight.  Their own records allegedly show positive salmonella cultures in 2007 and 2008.  Apparently, they just retested until they got a negative and sent the contaminated product on its way.  The FDA is conducting a criminal investigation.

What do you think?  If true, should someone go to jail?

Wait, there’s more.

When the FDA suspected the PCA plant was the source of the outbreak, they inspected it and found the Salmonella all over the place—in peanut paste, butter, meal, chopped, roasted. You get the picture—more peanut products than Bubba Gump had shrimp.  They found Salmonella in cracks in the floor and in the cooler where peanuts were stored ready for shipping.  The processing equipment was not properly cleaned and there were live and dead roaches in the washing room.  The trailers, where the peanuts could sit for up to a week before shipping and were supposed to be sealed, had cracks as wide as 6 inches.

Read the entire PDF report at http://www.fda.gov/ora/frequent/483s/pcaamend483red.pdf.

The plant was inspected in 2001, with state inspections later finding some unsanitary practices. Apparently, there’s not much meat to what the FDA can do until something actually goes wrong.

I don’t know if this PCA case is a fluke or just the tip of the iceberg.  Maybe jail time for those responsible would be a better deterrent than anything else the FDA could do.  What do you think?

P.S.  This is my scare of the day.  Tomorrow I will tell you why we should put these salmonella outbreaks into proper perspective.

Doctors and business owners: Send customized issues of James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor to your customers or patients. E-mail publisher-at-familydoctormag.com for details.

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2 Responses to “PCA distributed peanuts despite positive salmonella test, says FDA: Is jail time the answer?”

  1. Gary Patton Says:

    Hey Dr. H;

    You ask a good question. I’ll K-I-S-S my response for you.

    “People will not change their behaviour without consequences!” !” gfp‘42™

    BTW, that last ‘s’ in KISS is “straightforward” …not the normal one, eh!

    BTW also, my Quotable Quote applies in the case of parents who believe in negotiating with 2 years olds, too! :-)


  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Gary,

    I am glad you make clear the KISS stood for Keep It Simple and Straightforward (instead of Stupid).

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