By Sarah Fister Gale
One visit to Peanut Corp. of America’s (PCA) facilities would have raised red flags for any food manufacturer who is even modestly aware of food safety. The Chicago Tribune cited former workers at the Blakely, GA peanut-processing plant who’d witnessed leaking roofs and mice crawling in the peanuts, and a recent FDA inspection report that noted the presence of roaches, mold, and dirty utensils used in food preparation.
The result of PCA’s flagrant lack of food safety protocol was a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people in 43 states, left at least eight people dead, and caused the recall of more than 1,000 well-known brand name products that contained peanut butter or peanut paste manufactured by PCA.
People began reporting illnesses in October and by early January the CDC had confirmed Salmonella contamination in several lots of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter, all manufactured by the PCA facility. Because the plant operated as a source of ingredients for final products, the outbreak affected dozens of major brand products including ice cream, cookies, sports bars, packaged meals, cakes, pies, and snack foods.
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