GBI to see if peanut processor broke laws
Source of Article: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2009/01/29/peanut_GBI.html
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Gov. Sonny Perdue on Thursday directed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to review whether the Blakely peanut butter plant linked to the salmonella outbreak broke any state laws, officials said.
Also, state health
inspectors were summoned to
As state and federal inquiries on the outbreak continued Thursday, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin asked Perdue for assistance from the GBI.
“Due to the severity of
the situation, it has had a devastating impact not only on
“The investigation should encompass any potential criminal activities related to the recent salmonella outbreak.”
Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said the agency would review whether the state or the federal government is the appropriate jurisdiction to pursue charges. Depending on the answer, the GBI could launch a full criminal investigation, Brantley said.
Federal health officials
have identified the
State and federal health officials said earlier this week that they believed the plant broke the law by allowing products tainted with salmonella to enter the marketplace.
On several occasions, the company tested the peanut butter, found salmonella, then had the product retested, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company then shipped the product, the FDA said.
The agency employs about
60 inspectors, most of whom were in
The agency plans to shift some of its resources from checking food markets for outdated products to enhancing inspections at food-processing plants, Garrison said.
The new priorities would add an hour or more to those inspections, which typically last two to three hours, he said.
Inspectors will still check markets for some outdated items such as milk, eggs, dairy, meat, baby formula and prepackaged food, Garrison said.
Critics have charged that state inspectors should have detected more of the serious problems at the plant.
Garrison said that inspectors took a “snapshot in time” and conditions at the plant could have changed later.
“You have to remember that we have 16,000 firms that we inspect in the state, and 60 inspectors, who stay on average three hours at the site,” said Garrison. “The FDA was at the plant for 14 days.”
Irvin, who is working with lawmakers, wants the plants to be required to test their products and report those findings to the state.
Among the people Waxman
wants to testify are Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp. of
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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