The doors of the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Plainview remain closed while the company's president appeared before Congress Wednesday. The Georgia based company is accused of knowingly distributing peanut butter products contaminated with Salmonella.
Peanut Corporation of America president, Stewart Parnell, did appear before congress, but didn't have much to say. Parnell pleaded the fifth, but that doesn't mean congress didn't voice their thoughts. "Peanut butter goes great with jelly, but not with Salmonella," said Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
Nearly 600 people have been sickened, nine have died and 1,900 products recalled, resulting in one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history because of the Peanut Corporation of America. The Company allegedly knowingly shipped out products contaminated with Salmonella from their plant in Georgia and possibly from their plant in Plainview, Texas.
When subpoenaed by Congress to testify, company president Stewart Parnell pleaded the fifth. Representative Bart Stupak said, "I want to ask you about an e-mail you sent to your employees at the Peanut Corporation on January 12, 2009 after public health officials found Salmonella in peanut butter from your plant in Georgia." Parnell responded, "Mr. Chairman, committee on the advice of my counsel I respectfully decline to answer your question based on the protection afforded me under the United States Constitution."
Congress wasn't done questioning though. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon held up a container of recalled products and asked Parnell, "Would you be willing to take the lid off and eat any of these products now, like the people on the panel ahead of you, their relatives and loved ones did?" In all, the testimony lasted less than 10 minutes.
The death toll rose to nine Wednesday after a woman in Ohio died from Salmonella.
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Timeline of events in salmonella outbreak