FDA cited Peanut Corp. in 1990 for toxin problem

Source of Article:  http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/fda_cited_peanut_corp._in_1990_for_toxin_problem/13074/


By Bryan Gentry

Published: February 3, 2009

Peanut Recall Round-up - Your one-stop source for news from around the Web about the salmonella outbreak linked to Lynchburg-based Peanut Corporation of America.


Now called the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak, Peanut Corporation of America made some peanut products containing high levels of a toxic chemical nearly 20 years ago.

According to documents filed in Bedford County Circuit Court, the Food and Drug Administration cited PCA in 1990 for ship-ping peanut products containing aflatoxins. The finding resulted in a recall and at least one lawsuit against PCA, which is headquartered in a Bedford County home.

According to the FDA’s Web site, aflatoxins are toxic compounds produced by a mold that can grow on food. They have been found in peanuts, corn and other foods. Aflatoxins rarely are found in strong enough concentrations to sicken humans, the Web site said.

In 1990 the FDA sent a letter to Hugh Parnell Sr., the founder of PCA and president at the time.

The letter stated that “Ongoing investigations and sample analyses … have revealed you are responsible for distributing significant quantities of peanut products containing unacceptable levels of aflatoxins, posing a potential risk to public health.”

The letter also said, “We note you have been warned previously concerning the use of aflatoxin-contaminated products.”

The company recalled its products that had been shipped from its Plainview, Texas, plant that summer.

In January 1992, one of PCA’s customers filed suit in Bedford County. Bunte Candy Company had bought 673 50-pound cases of peanut butter from PCA in the summer of 1990. Some of those cases were returned to PCA because they did not meet Bunte’s quality standards, the lawsuit documents stated. The rest was mixed with peanut butter from other suppliers and used to make peanut butter candy.

After PCA notified Bunte Candy that the peanut butter might contain aflatoxins, Bunte had some of its candy tested, finding an aflatoxin concentration of one part per billion.

According to the FDA’s Web site, aflatoxin concentrations below 20 parts per billion are allowed in peanut products intended for humans, but food producers are not allowed to dilute products with aflatoxins by mixing them with other foods.

American Candy Company, which owned Bunte, sued PCA for $200,000 because its inventory of candy was lost, and other related costs. The lawsuit claimed that PCA had falsely stated that the peanut butter it provided was free of aflatoxins.

PCA said an Oklahoma company called Nutra Nut had sup-plied the peanuts to PCA’s Texas plant and was responsible for the aflatoxins. It added a claim against Nutra Nut to the lawsuit.

In 1993 PCA settled the suit with American Candy for $90,000, according to the lawsuit documents. PCA’s claim that Nutra Nut was responsible for the aflatoxins was later dismissed from the Bedford County Circuit Court as that claim was being handled in an Oklahoma court.




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