University of Phoenix
Charles Dougherty, Melissa Corder, Stephanie White, Christina Petrusaitis, Shannon Hofmeister
April 20, 2015
The Salmonella Outbreak
In 2009, the United States had one of the largest food recalls in history. Salmonella contaminated peanut products were the sources of eight deaths and over 500 people were sickened from a reported 43 states. The food recall involved more than 200 companies who were supplied with PCA’s peanut ingredients. Many of the company’s products went to military installations, schools, nursing facilities, prisons, and food processors.
Peanut Corporation America (PCA) is a family owned business with operating plants in Blakely, Georgia, Suffolk, Virginia, and Plainview, Texas with its base operating out of Lynchburg, Virginia. The PCA plant in Blakely had obvious risks of contamination stemming from employee contamination, to a leaking roof, and cross-food contamination. After salmonella was founded in the plant, the corporation failed to stop the distribution of peanut products.
The driving force behind PCA’s alleged negligence and unethical behavior was former company owner, president and CEO Stewart Parnell, the man who in company emails allegedly ordered the shipment of contaminated products, or ordered re-tests when initial tests showed contamination. Many corporate crimes involve some type of financial gain although; PCA did whatever it took to keep the money coming in at any cost. PCA revenues more than $20 million a year and were unwilling to fix the sanitation issues that faced their facilities. Reports suggest that there were previous contaminations, rodents, leaks and the plants was unclean (Moss, 2009).
The owners and some lead personnel did not have any moral scope, as they were more concerned with money rather than the safety of their consumers. Parnell allegedly told his employees that the company’s products had never tested positive for Salmonella, despite the 12 positive tests over the 2 preceding years. And even after federal inspectors shut down his plants, Parnell asked the FDA to let him sell his remaining peanuts because he was losing money. Under Oregon law the role Parnell allegedly played in the Salmonella outbreak could be considered criminal negligent homicide and Parnell should be charged with egregious negligence as well. After the recall, the company filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to shield liability from its consumers (Basu, 2014) (Moss, 2009).
After the raid on the Blakely plant and headquarters in Lynchburg, Steven Parnell was indicted on felony charges. Four former employees to include Parnell and his brother Michael Parnell were formally indicted on 97 counts relating to salmonella contaminated peanut and peanut products. Parnell, the owner of PCA knowingly shipped contaminated peanut butter, peanut paste other peanut products. Parnell also committed fraud by faking laboratory tests that was intended to screen for salmonella (Basu, 2014).
Parnell appeared before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, but failed to impress by pleading the 5th Amendment. The former plant manager reached a plea agreement and is now a witness for the prosecution. Parnell and his brother were both convicted of conspiracy, fraud, and other federal…