Victims, families urge Peanut Corp. CEO to be held accountable

Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, issued the following statement today in support of those who were affected by the 2009 recall of peanuts contaminated with Salmonella.

The outbreak was traced to a Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) facility, which distributed peanuts to hundreds of companies nationwide. A Department of Justice investigation Congresswoman DeLauro called for following the outbreak examined if PCA founder and CEO Stewart Parnell was aware the company was shipping Salmonella-contaminated peanuts.

“The facts here are clear—over 700 consumers were sickened and nine people died as a result of consuming peanuts distributed by the Peanut Corporation of America. I believe that this tragedy could have been prevented, but our current food safety system is not strong enough to do so. I strongly urge DOJ to renew focus on this investigation and if it finds the company has acted with willful negligence, it should move forward with prosecuting the appropriate parties responsible. It was the alleged actions of PCA during the peanut salmonella outbreak that highlighted the need for stronger criminal penalties in our food safety laws.

“The enactment of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in December represented a strong first step toward strengthening our food safety system, but much work remains. While the new law has updated the regulatory system governing food safety, the structure remains antiquated and incapable of acting efficiently. That is why I will continue to fight for the creation of a single food safety agency, which would consolidate the responsibilities of the 15 federal agencies that currently share jurisdiction in protecting our food supply. This one agency would help prevent jurisdictional confusion, and better advance the most recent food safety science available. Such a structure would ultimately reduce the potential for future outbreaks. We have a responsibility to the American public to ensure that the food in our grocery stories, restaurants, and on our kitchen tables is safe."