Stewart Parnell, the owner of the peanut company behind the recent salmonella outbreak, urged his workers to ship tainted products after receiving test results identifying salmonella contamination, the AP reports. A House committee disclosed internal company emails on Wednesday, showing that the Peanut Corp. owner ordered the shipment of the tainted products because he was concerned about lost sales.
A laboratory owner testified before the House panel and stated that the company’s disregard for detected salmonella is “virtually unheard of.”
According to the AP:
“Charles Deibel, president of Deibel Laboratories Inc., said his company was among those that tested Peanut Corp. of America's products and notified the Georgia plant that salmonella was found in some of its peanut stock. Peanut Corp. sold the products anyway, according to a Food and Drug Administration inspection report.”
Now Deibel is hoping that that this crisis leads to greater FDA oversight in matters of food safety. "It is not unusual for Deibel Labs or other food testing laboratories to find that samples clients submit do test positive for salmonella and other pathogens, nor is it unusual that clients request that samples be retested," Deibel said to the House subcommittee. "What is virtually unheard of is for an entity to disregard those results and place potentially contaminated products into the stream of commerce."
Peanut Corp. is currently under criminal investigation, and on Monday its Texas plant was closed due to the discovery of salmonella.