Peanut Processor found salmonella on 12 occasions, shipped product anyway (resulting in 501 poisonings and 8 deaths in 43 states)

The government Tuesday accused the peanut butter manufacturer tied to a nationwide salmonella outbreak of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations. Peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has been tied to the salmonella outbreak that has sickened 501 people in 43 states and is believed to have contributed to eight deaths. The Food and Drug Administration said that its inspection of the PCA plant in Blakely, Ga., found records of 12 instances in which plant officials identified salmonella in ingredients or finished products. The products should not have been shipped, the FDA says. PCA took no steps to address cleaning after finding the salmonella, says Michael Rogers, director of the FDA’s division of field investigations. In some instances, the company had the product tested again by a different laboratory and got a clean test result, FDA officials said in a telephone conference with reporters. It’s quite possible that a retest would miss the salmonella, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. The product should have been destroyed after the first positive test result, he says.

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