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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Parnell hopes to move on, but what about the nine dead and the 700 sickened?

Bryan Gentry of the Lynchburg News and Advance stepped back into the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella outbreak now coming up on the two-year anniversary of the announcement of the outbreak that sickened over 700 and killed nine with his article – “Parnell hopes to move on after Peanut Corp. probe.”

Parnell5th.jpgAlthough I like his smooth talking, whiskey drinking, criminal attorney, Bill Gust, I completely disagree that “Parnell wrongfully lost his reputation because politicians and Salmonella victims wanted someone to blame, and lawyers wanted someone to sue. Stewart was simply grist for the political mill,” he said. “… Stewart has been vilified as the source of all of their family suffering. Frankly, I think that’s unfair.”

I say, BULLSHIT!

As I said to Gentry:

Bill Marler, a lawyer who led numerous Salmonella victims in suits against PCA, favors punishment for Parnell.

He also supports the food safety bill signed into law by President Obama this month. The law had wide support in part because of PCA, he said.

“The PCA outbreak was so large and so outrageous … that it gave some impetus for business and consumers to sort of stick together on it,” Marler said. …

Meanwhile, a bigger budget for the FDA was one thing Marler wanted. He attended the hearing with some of his clients, who testified about salmonella poisoning.

Later that year, the House of Representatives approved a bill to expand the FDA’s powers and budget. “I think that the PCA outbreak was that last outbreak that pushed the House into voting on that bill,” Marler said.

The bill lets the FDA conduct more inspections and force recalls of infected products, Marler said.

Now that the bill has passed the Senate and the president’s desk, Marler wants the new Congress to budget money for the bill’s programs.

He is not optimistic about that prospect, he said.

He said the FDA needs to step up enforcement. While Marler believes Parnell violated food safety laws, he also said there have been other outbreaks involving worse wrongdoing without criminal charges.

“If you’re going to prosecute Stewart Parnell … you should start prosecuting a lot of other people. And I think that’s what should happen.”…

It really is time to adequately fund the FDA and to prosecute the CEO’s who allow their companies to poison us.

  • Jeff Almer

    Let me be the first one to extend an olive branch to the honorable Stewart Parnell and his plight. I, and other victims of his fine peanut products were used as ploys for the big bad ol’ governments making a whipping boy out of our Virginia gentleman. I had no idea that Stewart was without blame until reading this Lynchburg article quoting his lawyer Bill Gust.
    So Stewie was “quoted out of context” in Congress. Let me ask Mr. Gust if (—by the way-Gust is defined in the dictionary as a sudden powerful rush of wind) “I’ll hold my breath again” intimates any culpability at all that Stew knew that maybe he should not send his filthy product out. That is one question on my mind. My second thought is I wonder if Stew ever sauntered around the loading dock or good ol PCA and saw:
    -live and dead roaches (obviously ate some of the product) in the wash room.
    – the mold growing on the ceilings and walls in the PCA coolers where finished product was.
    -bird feathers and feces in ventilation systems.
    -the rainwater leaking around skylights in the production/packaging room.
    -felt used on the assembly line. How in the world would you clean that I ask?
    -finished product sitting next to raw product
    -huge gaps in the seals for bay doors allowing 6 inch openings for 5-7 days to just let outside contaminants swirl around finished product.
    I read the seven page FDA inspection report and I have to wonder if Stewart ever stopped counting his money, got off his rear end, went to the airport where his private plane was and flew on down from the Virginia compound to walk around the gold mine known as the Blakely Georgia facility. Just curious if the reports of part time temps taking their uniforms home and coming back wearing the uncleaned uniforms has any merit.
    It’s just me talking, but if I were as smart enough as Stewie to own my own business that produces food, I might want to open my eyes a little bit and take a bit more care of the facility that produces food ingested by consumers.
    It’s a double-edged sword for Stew—If you claim any responsibility or say what occurred, your rear could be in serious trouble. But then again poor Stewie is made out to look “bad” by everybody, to be a scapegoat. I am just going to close out this by throwing out the old axiom “THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE”. If this truth absolves you of guilt so be it; but I need to point out that the pathetic attempts by Gust and you to engender sympathy ring hollow for those of whose who buried our loved ones because your product killed them.
    If their truly was nothing to go on, why would this investigation still be lingering is my thought. Enjoy your life Stewart, at least you still have life and breathe air. Can’t say that for the 9 people six feet under.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Jeff you said it all. Thanks for quoting what the FDA report found. FACT of the matter, thank goodness for PFGE testing, we were able to identify these products that POISONED our loved ones, as coming from the PCA plant. That is a FACT. Who owned that Plant? Stewart Parnell. As owner of a business, you are responsible for DUE DILIGENCE. Those of us who were subject to Stewart’s poisoning do not feel that DUE DILIGENCE was taken in his manufacturing process. This has nothing to do with the FDA or funding or anything else other than CARE WAS NOT TAKEN WHEN THIS PRODUCT WAS MANUFACTURED. In my opinion this makes Stewart Parnell responsible. Regardless. My son still has lingering problems from the PCA peanut poisoning over two years ago. I agree with Bill Marler — this is BULLSHIT.

  • Elizabeth

    The PFGE testing linked the strain in the contaminated products to what exactly? The King Nut container or the plant samples? What is the date on the FDA report you are quoting Mr. Almer? I’m trying to find it.
    Thanks!

  • From the CDC:
    An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health suggested King Nut brand creamy peanut butter as a likely source of Salmonella infections among many ill persons in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from an open 5-pound container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter. King Nut creamy peanut butter is distributed in many states to establishments such as long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, delis, cafeterias, and bakeries.
    The Connecticut Department of Public Health Laboratory and the Georgia Department of Agriculture independently isolated Salmonella from unopened 5-pound containers of King Nut brand peanut butter. Officials in Connecticut have identified the Salmonella found in their container as the outbreak strain. Further tests are pending in Georgia to determine if the Salmonella in their container is also the outbreak strain.
    The Michigan Department of Community Health isolated Salmonella from an unopened 5-pound container of King Nut brand peanut butter. They have identified the Salmonella found in their container as the outbreak strain.
    Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers are produced by the Kellogg Company in North Carolina, using peanut paste from the Peanut Corporation of America. On January 14, 2009, the Kellogg Company put a precautionary hold on these peanut butter crackers, and on January 16 recalled these products. Other peanut containing products produced by a variety of companies may have been made with the ingredients recalled by PCA. CDC and state health departments continue to investigate the association of other brands and foods that contain peanut butter with illness.
    Salmonella Typhimurium was isolated in Canada from Austin brand peanut butter crackers purchased in the United States. Officials in Canada have identified the Salmonella found in these peanut butter crackers as the outbreak strain. Salmonella resembling the outbreak strain was isolated by a private laboratory from three intact packages of Austin brand Toasty peanut butter crackers obtained from a patient’s home in Oregon.
    On January 28, 2009, PCA announced a voluntary recall of all peanuts and peanut products processed in its Blakely, Georgia facility since January 1, 2007. In addition to peanut butter and peanut paste, the expanded recall includes roasted peanuts and other peanut products and was based in part on laboratory testing information from the company.
    Lab Data:
    http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/strains_table.html
    Full Report:
    http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/update.html

  • Jeff Almer

    Elizabeth—-For those who did not see the FDA’ s report. It is dated from 1-9-09 to 1-27-09. It does take time to inspect the trash dump known as PCA ya know! Perhaps Bill can relay his impressions of the building, as he toured it I believe? Incredibly, the examples I gave from the report are not all of them but I do have a PDF of the FDA report if anyone would like it. Cannot paste it in this response though.
    From the sound of things out of Stewie’s bunker, Bill may have toured the Georgia facility more than Salmonella Stew. Parnell could not be bothered with sanitation issues when there is money to be counted, hunting to be done, and of course the fishing boat needs to keep the dust off of it.
    One additional point on the Bill Gust/Parnell spin: If Stewart is so convinced of his innocence then nothing is stopping him from talking to authorities; one would think a truly innocent man would want to shout that from the rooftops. If Stewart instead prefers to keep quiet because he knows in his heart that he is responsible for nine deaths, then maybe “limbo” isn’t such a bad thing. The sickened, like Christopher Meunier and Jacob Hurley deserve answers and justice too!

  • Brandy Hurley

    Thank you Jeff. As Jacob Hurley’s mom, I am deeply angered by Stewart’s latest claims.
    “There is absolutely no reason in the world that he would have knowingly engaged in any form of misbehavior,” Gust said.
    Based on the emails we have all seen, we know this is such an untrue statement. He knew exactly what he was doing. He sent product out to the nation for general consumption, knowing the product was contaminated with Salmonella. That is a fact.
    With the FDA policies in place, they will be able to inspect companies more frequently, and unethical scum like Parnell can be stopped before food is consumed by the public. And when a true mistake does happen, the FDA can track sources and get product off the shelves as soon as possible.
    His negligence and greed for money has taken the lives of 9 innocent people and has sickened many. He needs to take responsibility and stop trying to shift the blame. Does he forget that we saw the horrific emails from him? After learning about yet another lot that tested positive for Salmonella, “I go through this about once a week…I will hold my breath………again….”. Or when he said “okay, let’s turn them loose then…Stewart”, after learning a batch received a negative testing, ONLY AFTER there was a POSITIVE testing earlier from another lab.
    That is just sick. On behalf of my son Jacob, who was only 3 at the time when he got Salmonella poisoning, thank you to everyone that has fought with us to make our food safer. Now we can work on getting Mr. Parnell prosecuted. How does he sleep at night? Maybe with one eye open.