More peanut butter products are being recalled because of the nationwide salmonella outbreak, and the plant responsible could face a criminal investigation as a result.
The Peanut Corp. of America is recalling all peanut products produced at its south Georgia plant since Jan. 2007. The plant is small, but has produced more than 400 products being pulled from store shelves.
Federal inspectors have found mold, pests and other sanitary problems at the plant. Now, congressional and state officials are calling for an investigation that could lead to criminal charges being filed.
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The company's actions "can only be described as reprehensible and criminal," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who oversees FDA funding. "This behavior represents the worst of our current food safety regulatory system."
The plant's managers continued shipping peanut products even after traces of salmonella were found. As a result, at least eight may have died and more than 500 people have gotten sick.
"We have been devastated by this, and we have been working around the clock with the FDA to ensure any potentially unsafe products are removed from the market immediately," said the company's president, Stewart Parnell.
He added that company officials are cooperating with federal and state inquiries.
Georgia's top agriculture official will join in determining whether the case warrants criminal prosecution.
Although major national brands of peanut butter are not affected, the latest recall covers peanut butter, peanut paste, peanut meal, and granulated products, as well as all dry and oil roasted peanuts shipped from the factory.
The plant has since stopped all production.