The AP (2/6, Alonso-Zaldivar, Blackledge) reports, “Lawmakers reacted angrily Thursday when told that food makers and state safety inspectors are allowed to keep tests results secret,” which “keeps federal health officials in the dark even when products have been contaminated by salmonella or other dangerous bacteria.” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the outbreak, “I’d like to see some people go to jail.” At this point, “federal law does not require reporting of contaminants if companies receive private test results showing them or states find them in their inspections.”
The AP (2/6) reports, “Fixing the nation’s food safety woes may not be possible this year unless President Barack Obama makes it a top priority, a senior lawmaker warned after a hearing.”
Sundlof: Retesting and shipping is “universally condemned” in food industry. USA Today (2/6, Schmit) reports, “The Georgia peanut plant blamed for a massive food-safety recall engaged in a practice that is ‘universally condemned’ when it shipped products with contradictory test results for salmonella.” The director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, told the Senate that “retesting and shipping food after a positive result is not a ‘problem that’s rampant across the industry.'” The practice “is universally condemned,” he added. Charles Deibel, president of Deibel Laboratories, concurred, saying, “The vast majority of clients would send (such product) to a landfill.”
Communication error sends contaminated peanut butter to Kentucky. The AP (2/6, Barrouquere) reports, “Nearly 168,000 emergency meal kits sent to Kentucky in the wake of an ice storm had been recalled more than two weeks earlier because some contained peanut butter that could have been contaminated by salmonella, federal officials said Thursday.”
FDA defends its response to outbreak. The AP (2/5, Alonso-Zaldivar, Blackledge) reported, “Federal health officials are defending their handling of the nationwide salmonella outbreak, telling Congress they had been hot on the trail of a Georgia processor even before they were certain that peanuts were to blame for hundreds of illnesses.” According to Stephen Sundlof, head of the agency’s food safety center, the FDA “began its investigation prior to having a strong epidemiological link to a particular food.”
Agriculture Department orders Peanut Corporation of American, subsidiary banned from government business. The New York Times (2/6, A18, Falcone) reports, “The Agriculture Department on Thursday banned the company implicated in the nationwide contamination of peanut products from doing business with the federal government” after “at least eight people have died and hundreds have been sickened after eating tainted products.” The AG’s “order…will remain in force for one year.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.