A former peanut company executive has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a deadly salmonella outbreak. This was the toughest punishment ever handed out to a producer in a foodborne illness case. The outbreak in 2008 and 2009 was blamed for nine deaths and sickened hundreds more, and triggered one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. Before he was sentenced, former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell listened as nine victims testified about the terror and grief caused by tainted peanut butter traced to the company’s plant in southwest Georgia.
Experts say the trial of Parnell and two co-Defendants a year ago was the first time that a U.S. food producer stood trial on criminal charges in a food-poisoning case. U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Georgia’s Middle District, whose office prosecuted the case, called it “a landmark with implications that will resonate not just in the food industry but in corporate boardrooms across the country.” A federal jury convicted the 61 year old man of knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter and of faking results of lab tests intended to screen for salmonella.
It should be noted that Stewart Parnell and his co-Defendants were never charged with killing or sickening anybody. Instead, federal prosecutors charged them with defrauding customers who used Peanut Corporation’s peanuts and peanut butter in products from snack crackers to pet food. Parnell was convicted of 67 criminal counts including conspiracy, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. I compare what Toyota and GM did, and the fact their officers and employees to the peanut case escaped any jail time. I have to wonder how jail time was avoided for the automakers. While the peanut executive was involved with eight deaths, the two automakers were responsible for hundreds of deaths. One would expect the people of GM who were involved in tis wrongdoing and massive cover-up of a known defect to have been prosecuted criminally. But I guess there is more political influence in the automobile industry than in the peanut business.
I don’t mean to belittle at all about what happened in the peanut butter litigation – civil or criminal – it was bad. But I thought it necessary to mention how, officers and employees with two automakers got away with no individuals being charged criminally. That is impossible to justify in my opinion.
Source: Insurance Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.