On February 11th, at the American University Washington College of Law, Salmonella victims and their families will be sharing their stories and calling for criminal charges to be brought against former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) CEO Stewart Parnell. 

090211-parnell-hmed-10a_widec.jpgThe press conference will be held concurrently with the Government Accountability Project (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign Conference and will begin at 12:30PM EST. Victims will speak for approximately five minutes each and be open for questions following their statements.

In 2009, hundreds of companies recalled thousands of products made with PCA peanuts.  At least 714 people became ill with Salmonella infections after eating those products, and 9 died.

Victims and their families became outraged when, in the Congressional investigation that followed the outbreak, internal emails were uncovered which allege that PCA founder and CEO Stewart Parnell had acute knowledge that his company was shipping Salmonella- contaminated peanuts.

Though he has litigated thousands of cases in his career, long time food safety attorney and advocate Bill Marler has never seen anything quite like what occurred in the PCA outbreak.  “In my many years of handling food safety cases, I’ve yet to see a circumstance that has so clearly warranted criminal prosecution as the corporate mismanagement involved in the PCA outbreak,” said Marler.

During the hearing, Stewart Parnell refused to answer a single question, invoking his 5th Amendment constitutional protection against self-incrimination after each question. Although the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been investigating Parnell and other leaders at PCA leading up to the Salmonella outbreak for 2 years, no criminal charges have been brought against Parnell to date.

Family members of 6 PCA victims will speak at the press conference:

Jeff Almer – Savage, Minnesota. Jeff’s mother, Shirley Mae Almer, died less than two weeks after eating King Nut peanut butter containing PCA ingredients while in the care of a local nursing home.

Larry and Karen Andrew – Salome, Arizona/Roseburg, Oregon. Karen Andrew was made violently ill from PCA products.

Shirley Hullett – Maiden, North Carolina. Shirley’s husband Bobby Ray died as a result of a Salmonella infection in November 2008.

Peter Hurley – Portland, Oregon.  Peter’s son Jacob, then 3 years old, fell ill with severe Salmonella symptoms for nearly two weeks from eating his favorite pre-packaged peanut butter cracker snack.

Gabrielle Meunier – Burlington, Vermont. Gabrielle’s son Christopher was hospitalized due to a Salmonella infection during the 2008 PCA Salmonella outbreak.

Randy Napier – Medina, Ohio. Randy’s mother, Nellie Napier died in 2009 as a result of consuming King Nut peanut butter that contained PCA peanuts.

Lou Tousignant – Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Lou’s father, Clifford Tousignant, a Korean War veteran who was awarded three Purple Hearts during his service, died after consuming Salmonella-contaminated PCA products.