BREAKING NEWS: Inspector failed to flag salmonella-linked Texas plant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/5/09

BREAKING NEWS: Inspector failed to flag salmonella-linked Texas plant

DALLAS (AP) - A Texas inspector never noted that a peanut plant at the center of a salmonella outbreak had no state health department license -- despite at least three visits.

Details are in interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press.

AP reports Thursday, the inspector responsible for certifying the Plainview plant noted after each visit that the plant had such a license -- when it didn't.

Health officials say problems at the Peanut Corp. of America might plant have been flagged years ago had the inspector reported the plant's failure to obtain the required license.

When the plant was finally inspected earlier this year, Texas health officials found dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers in a crawl space above a production area. That led regulators to order a recall of all products the plant had shipped since 2005.

Inspector Gaylon Amonett was fired on Feb. 13 -- the day after state health officials ordered the recall.

Texas Department of Agriculture spokesman Bryan Black said if the lack of a license had been properly noted -- the department would have denied it organic certification.

Amonett acknowledged he checked "yes" on whether the Plainview plant had records showing it was in compliance with health codes for inspections in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

The reason he checked "yes" the first time was because a plant manager told him an application for state health department licensing was completed and was at company headquarters.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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