Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Peanut plant knew product was tainted

FDA: Peanut plant knew product was tainted with salmonella
Story Highlights
Government confirms PCA shipped salmonella-tainted product without further testing
PCA had said it shipped products only after subsequent tests returned negative
FDA: Data provided by company "not consistent with the subsequent analysis"

(CNN) -- The Georgia company whose peanut products have been blamed for a nationwide salmonella outbreak shipped some products even though they had tested positive for the bacteria and no other tests indicated they were safe, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

Previously, Peanut Corporation of America had said it shipped products only after subsequent tests on them came back negative. Items made with its peanut products have been linked to more than 500 cases of illness, including eight deaths.

The agency said the company's management told FDA inspectors last month during an inspection of the plant that they shipped products that first had tested positive for salmonella, but only if they later had tested negative.

But, it said, "FDA determined that certain information provided by PCA management during the inspection was not consistent with the subsequent analysis of the company's records."

As a result, the agency amended its report Thursday.

"In some situations the firm received a positive salmonella test result, followed by a later negative result, and then shipped the products," said the FDA report, which was included in an e-mail to CNN. "In some other situations, the firm shipped the products [which had already tested positive] before it had received the [second] positive test results." Watch Senate hearing on food safety amid peanut recall »

In some cases, it said, "no additional testing appears to have been done."

No one from the company returned a call seeking comment.

Federal authorities have initiated a criminal investigation into the company.

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