Several employees as well as the owner of the company, Peanut Corporation of America, were recently indicted for a salmonella outbreak that stemmed from one of the company’s plants in Georgia. However, criminal charges are rarely — if ever — brought forward in cases of food-borne illnesses. The charges, which are being prosecuted in federal court, include fraud and conspiracy as well as other accusations.
Apparently, federal investigators were able to gain access to the emails of those charged and allegedly discovered what they believed to be criminal intent with regard to the distribution of salmonella tainted peanuts. According to the investigation, after some peanuts tested positive for salmonella, they were subjected to later tests that produced different results. One of those involved, the only individual who appears to have admitted any wrongdoing, wrote an email concerning the detrimental financial impact that the salmonella issue was causing the company.
Investigators also reported that the Georgia-based plant wasn’t up to standards. Conditions may have included roaches and even mold. The roof was also apparently leaky. The company also had a factory in another state shut down for what were purportedly similar conditions.
Those indicted now face multiple criminal charges, including mail and wire fraud. They have also been accused of purposely misbranding food in order to defraud potential consumers. Although emotions may run high for those who were affected by the Georgia-based salmonella outbreak from Sept. 2008 to March 2009, the men and women who have been charged must have their rights and innocence protected throughout the entirety of the federal court proceedings. It is likely that the defendants have reviewed their charges as well as the evidence alongside their counsel. Doing so can enable a defendant to determine how to proceed in order to fight for an outcome that is most favorable to them.
Source: theindependent.com, “Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia”, , July 27, 2014