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Peanut Corporation of America CEO May Face Life in Prison

Posted on in Foodborne illness

Peanut Corporation of America CEO May Face Life in Prison

Who is Stewart Parnell?

Stewart Parnell, 61, is the former CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America (“PCA”), a peanut butter manufacturer. As a result of a salmonella outbreak tied to PCA products, Parnell has been found guilty on 71 counts of various crimes such as conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and wire fraud. Parnell's sentencing will take place on September 21.

The Salmonella Outbreak

Between 2008 and 2009 there was a salmonella outbreak from PCA products. PCA sold contaminated peanut butter from its southwest Georgia plant after salmonella was found in the factory. As a result of the salmonella outbreak, nine people died and over 700 fell ill from the tainted peanut products.

Parnell knew the product was tainted and proceeded to ship out truckloads of peanut butter to food brokers. PCA manufactured the peanut butter then sold it through brokers, which means that the contamination spread throughout the entire food supply. Even products that merely use peanut butter as an ingredient were contaminated. Parnell's brother was a food broker, which made tracing the outbreak even tougher.

Sentencing of Parnell

The United States Probation Office recommends that Parnell receive a life sentence when Judge Louis Sands, of Albany, Georgia, imposes sentencing in September. Parnell also faces approximately $144 million in economic loss. Life in prison for food-related crimes is unprecedented and although federal adjudication recommendations do not have to be followed, most judiciaries take such advisements into deep consideration.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella bacteria cause an infection in the small intestine and is also one of the most common types of food poisoning. Ingesting food or water that contains the bacteria causes salmonella.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Symptoms of salmonella can arise between eight and 48 hours of ingesting the contaminated food or drink. Such symptoms include:

  • Stomach pains
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Small pink spots on the skin

Diagnosis of Salmonella

Salmonella is diagnosed through a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may also perform tests including:

  • Blood culture
  • Stool culture
  • Complete blood count

Treatment of Salmonella

Rest and hydration are most important when treating salmonella. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe antibiotics.

How to Prevent Salmonella

Prevention is the best way to reduce infection from salmonella. Preventive measures include proper hygiene such as washing hands before and after handling food products, proper food handling and storage at appropriate temperatures, and wearing gloves when handling food.

Have You Been Infected with Salmonella?

Salmonella affects a person rapidly with painful, debilitating symptoms. If you have been exposed to salmonella and suffered an infection, it is important that you seek legal assistance to get the relief you seek. The attorneys at Newland & Newland are highly qualified and knowledgeable on food poisoning-related crimes and are equipped to provide you with legal guidance. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation. We make hospital and house visits upon request.

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