It’s been a year since we first heard about the contaminated peanut products from the Georgia-based Peanut Corporation of America. A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminds us that the salmonella outbreak killed 9 people and sickened hundreds of people. But apparently the Peanut Corporation never accepted accountability for the outbreak.
After the outbreak, the Georgia state government and the federal government promised to “get tough” on food safety. But not much has happened since then. The Georgia Legislature passed a new law that mandated food testing regulations, but these new regulations have not been worked out. Lawmakers in Washington D.C. seem to have forgotten about the food safety legislation that’s currently sitting in Congress.
Criminal investigations into the Peanut Corporation have fizzled out. No charges were ever filed against executives even though evidence suggested that they knowingly sent out contaminated products.
The salmonella outbreak linked to peanuts from the Georgia plant started in late 2008 and went on to kill at least 9 people. The Blakely plant in Georgia was shut down.
The Peanut Corporation is now bankrupt, and part of the $12 million insurance settlement connected to the bankruptcy will go to about 100 victims of the outbreak. However, the victims have not received anything so far. Other lawsuits against other companies that used the peanuts are pending.
Jeff Almer’s mother died after eating contaminated peanut butter from the Peanut Corporation. He is stunned at the lack of action; “Nothing’s happened. It’s very frustrating.”
Many experts are worried that as time passes, the chance of food safety reform gets smaller.
However, Michael Doyle of the food safety center at the University of Georgia suggests that state officials are still working on the legislation.
“I’ve learned to be patient,” said Doyle. “To get it right.”
In the meantime, recalls continue to roll in because of contaminated food products. Recently pine nuts and hazel nuts were recalled because of salmonella, and peanut butter has been recalled because of the bacteria listeria.
Attorney Bill Marler, who is handling lawsuits for about 45 victims of the salmonella outbreak, finds it hard to believe that criminal charges have not been filed against Peanut Corporation executives: “In 17 years of litigating every major food-borne illness outbreak in the U.S., I have not seen a clearer situation that demanded criminal prosecution.”
If you’d like to see something done about food safety in Georgia, contact your legislators and let them know how you feel.
If you’ve been injured by a toxic, contaminated or defective product, contact an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to compensation. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.