Many readers of this journal will likely recall 2008 and 2009’s national Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut product manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). Since news of the outbreak first hit the media, the case has been a regular fixture in the press. The outbreak is notable both for its enormous scope—over 700 sickened in 46 states, including at least 9 deaths—as well as for the actions of PCA’s president, Stewart Parnell, who knowingly allowed Salmonella– contaminated product to be shipped into commerce.
One such person affected by the outbreak was Jake Hurley, then three years-old. His father, Peter Hurley, a cop from Portland, Oregon, was introduced to the term “Salmonella” when Jake became severely ill from the bacteria. Through the combined efforts of various medical and health department folks, his infection was traced to a PCA product. Unbeknownst to the family, the innocuous looking peanut butter crackers they had been consistently feeding him contained the potentially deadly pathogen.
Since then, Peter has become a vocal proponent of food safety reform and has appeared numerous times in Washington, DC on food safety-related matters. The Hurleys’ story is being featured this week on the North Carolina Public Radio program, The Story. To hear an audio stream of Peter’s interview retelling his family’s experience, click HERE.
In related news, Senate hearings are set to begin shortly on the Food Safety Modernization Act mentioned by Peter in the interview. Click HERE to read more about this important piece of legislation.