F.D.A. says P.C.A. knew of Salmonella contamination

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — Testing conducted by the Peanut Corporation of America at its Blakely, Ga., manufacturing plant identified the presence of Salmonella on 12 different occasions during 2007 and 2008, according to officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the findings, investigators said the company continued to ship product to customers.

The news of the government findings drew a strong response from the American Peanut Council, Alexandria, Va.

"The findings of the F.D.A. report can only be seen as a clear and unconscionable action of one irresponsible manufacturer, which stands alone in an industry that strives to follow the most stringent food safety standards," said Patrick Archer, president of the American Peanut Council. "The American peanut industry’s top priority is the health and safety of consumers. While we will of course wait for the full report tomorrow, this apparent failure to follow food safety regulations must be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

The additional information came to light as both the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. continue their investigations into a food-borne illness outbreak related to Salmonella Typhimurium that has infected more than 500 and may be linked to as many as 8 deaths. The outbreak has been linked to the Blakely plant and led to the recall of more than 400 varieties of products, ranging from cookies, crackers, ice cream and pet food.

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