The New York Times (2/5, B10, Martin) reports, “A company at the center of a huge and deadly salmonella outbreak said Wednesday that its peanut plant was regularly visited last year by private inspectors, several of whom declared it to be in tip-top shape” and “in a statement released Wednesday, the company, Peanut Corporation of America, reported ‘regular visits and inspections’ of its Blakely, Ga., plant in 2008, not only by federal and state regulators but by independent auditors and food safety companies that made ‘customary unannounced inspections.'”
Lawmakers press for stronger food safety laws. The AP (2/5, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports, “Lawmakers vowed Wednesday to press for stronger food safety laws and more money for inspections as the list of recalled peanut products surpassed 1,000 in an ongoing national salmonella outbreak” although “it remains unclear whether Congress can deliver major improvements in food safety this year, given the press of critical issues such as the shaky economy and a ballooning federal deficit.” Of the new bills, “all of them would give the FDA authority to order recalls, which are now voluntary” as “the FDA had to invoke bioterrorism laws to get testing records from Peanut Corp.”
PCA insurer asks court for ruling on coverage. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2/5, Chapman, Scott, Schneider) reports, “The insurance company for a South Georgia peanut plant has filed a lawsuit that questions whether the insurer must cover damages from claims filed by victims in the salmonella outbreak.”
Georgia State agriculture commissioner proposes reforms. The AP (2/5) reports, “Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin called for a new state division that would focus on food safety monitoring in the wake of a widespread salmonella outbreak linked to a southwest Georgia peanut plant.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.