Peanut firm’s chief an adviser

Source of Article:  http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/02/01/parnell0201.html

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The president of the peanut company linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak serves on an industry advisory board that helps the U.S. Department of Agriculture set quality standards for peanuts.

Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp. of America, based in Lynchburg, Va., was first appointed to the USDA’s Peanut Standards Board in July 2005 and was reappointed in October for a second term that runs until June 2011, according to the USDA.

The all-volunteer board isn’t directly involved with food-safety issues. Its main duties are to advise the USDA on how to grade and classify peanuts after they come out of the field —- setting the sizes for jumbo vs. medium peanuts, for instance, or standards on how much moisture they should contain before they’re allowed on store shelves.

The board also is charged with helping set “quality and handling standards” for domestic and imported peanuts.

Created by the 2002 Farm Bill that provides federal subsidies to farmers, the board advises the secretary of the USDA on “standards intended to assure that satisfactory quality and wholesome peanuts are used in the domestic and import peanut markets,” according to the USDA.

A USDA spokesman said no one was available Friday to provide more details on the board or its members.

Ben Smith, a member of the Peanut Standards Board who also is manager of peanut operations for snack foods maker Lance Inc. in Columbus, said the board probably wouldn’t get involved in food-safety issues such as salmonella found in peanut processing.

“We deal primarily with the agricultural aspect of peanuts,” he said.

Peanut Corp. of America issued a statement Friday expressing empathy with those sickened and said it is cooperating with investigations.

 

 

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