By James Clark | email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - There are striking similarities between the current national salmonella outbreak and the one more than a year and half ago tied to Plainview's Peanut Corporation of America Plant. While no deaths have been reported from the tainted eggs, the illnesses of more than a thousand people have been tied to the recalled eggs.
Comparing Eggs To Peanut Butter
Five hundred million eggs from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, both of Iowa, have been recalled due to salmonella. Federal inspectors found piles of manure up to eight feet tall, live mice, pigeons and other birds.
By comparison, in 2009 a Congressional oversight committee found evidence of dead mice, live bugs, dead bugs, feathers, and something referred to as a "gooey" substance at the Plainview peanut plant.
Peanut Corporation of America plants in both Plainview and Blakely Georgia were tied to salmonella that killed nine and sickened roughly 700 people, more than half of them children. More than 2,000 products were recalled nationwide.
Were There Criminal Charges?
Wire reports from 2009 indicated that PCA officials including PCA President Stewart Parnell could face either misdemeanor or felony charges under Texas law. But Hale County District Attorney Wally Hatch says no criminal charges were filed locally.
"There are laws where corporate officials can be held personally accountable," says Hatch. However, "No one ever approached our office," Hatch continues.
Hatch says no agency such as Plainview Police or the Hale County Sheriff's Office brought a complaint. "Generally speaking ... I can't recall when we [the District Attorney's Office] were the complaining office."
"Someone has to come to us," says Hatch. From there his office would decide whether or not there was sufficient evidence of any crime, if any, and whether or not to take it to a grand jury.
Because Texas victims might come from somewhere other than Hale County, Hatch thought it might be appropriate to ask the office of Texas Attorney General if criminal charges have been filed.
In turn, the A.G.'s office said to check with the Hale County District Attorney.
Federal officials said in January of 2009 that Parnell was the subject of a criminal investigation however, a check of federal court records so far shows no charges have resulted from the investigation.
Latest On The Facility, Settlement
Meanwhile the Plainview peanut plant remains idle. "There have been some companies look at it," according to the Plainview Chamber of Commerce. With the shutdown of the plant, Plainview lost 30 jobs.
Less than a week ago a federal judge approved a $12 million settlement between PCA and 122 people who filed claims. In addition to the $12 million from PCA's insurance, Kellogg Corporation also contributed more than $2 million.
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