State inspector did check Plainview peanut plant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/5/09

State inspector did check Plainview peanut plant

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - New details emerge in the salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corporation of America. NewsChannel 11 has learned the Plainview facility was inspected, three times by an inspector from the Texas Department of Agriculture.  Each time, the inspector certified that the plant had a state license when in fact it did not.

The inspector was based at the department's Lubbock office, the department fired inspector Gaylon Amonett on February 13th.  That's the day after state health leaders ordered the recall for products from the Plainview plant.

Amonett was responsible for certifying the Plainview plant to process organic products, and worked for the TDA for 22-years. Amonett acknowledged that he checked "yes" to the question of whether the Plainview plant had records showing it was in compliance with health codes on a work sheet he completed in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

He says he checked "yes" because the plant manager told him the license application had been completed and was at PCA's corporate headquarters. Amonett says he continued to check "yes" because he assumed the license was granted.

A TDA spokesman says if the lack of license had been properly noted, they would have denied organic certification and alerted the Department of State Health Services. Although food safety is technically not part of the organic certification process the salmonella outbreak prompted the USDA to have inspectors report any health or safety violations to the appropriate government office.

Amonett lives in Lubbock.  NewsChannel 11 left a message at his last known number Thursday night, but we did not receive a call back.

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