Peanut Corp. of America files
for bankruptcy; peanut butter = high risk?
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
2/18/2009-According to an Associated
Press article, Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has filed for Chapter 7
bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Virginia on Feb. 13. Companies file for
Chapter 7 to liquidate their assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors.
PCA said in the filing that its debt and assets both ranged between $1–10
million. The peanut processing company’s Blakely, Ga. facility is at the
heart of the national Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more
than 630 people, may have caused nine deaths, and has led to more than 2,000
product recalls. A second plant in Plainview,
Texas was closed at the
beginning of Feb. after preliminary tests came back positive for possible Salmonella
In addition, the government is putting together a criminal investigation
into the case, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed. On Feb.
11, PCA President Stewart Parnell refused to answer questions put to him by
the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, invoking his Fifth
Amendment right against self-incrimination.
According to an MSNBC article, PCA is not the only organization
feeling the pressure surrounding the outbreak. During Feb. 11’s hearing,
Stephen Sundlof, Director Center
for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration,
told lawmakers that agency inspectors will start to routinely collect samples
for bacterial testing whenever they go into a facility. Currently, that’s
only done if officials suspect a problem. In addition, Sundlof
said the government is weighing whether to designate peanut butter as a
high-risk food. This would mean producers would be required to follow written
food safety plans to prevent contamination. The plans would include proper
roasting to kill Salmonella, keeping finished products away from raw
peanuts, and making sure the factory roof doesn’t leak—since Salmonella
thrives in moisture.
Associated Press article
testimony Feb. 11 by Sundlof