Timeline of events in salmonella outbreak

Published: Feb. 11, 2009 at 10:19 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 10:58 PM CST
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-- March 2005 - The Peanut Corporation of America plant opens a plant in Plainview, Texas which employes approximately 30 people.  It would later be discovered that PCA never notified all the various state agencies that regulate the plant and therfore it was never inspected until early 2009.

-- 2006 - Four inspections by the Georgia Department of Agriculture cite numerous, repeated violations at the Blakely, Ga., plant of the Peanut Corp. of America, a peanut processing company and maker of peanut butter for bulk distribution to institutions, food service industries, and private label food companies. The violations include food residue buildup, storage on floors and the improper use of duct tape.

-- Aug. 2007 - Three samples taken at PCA by the Georgia Department of Agriculture test negative for salmonella and pesticides.

-- 2008 - Seven tests performed for the company are positive for salmonella. In each case, after a retest is negative, the product is shipped.

-- Sept. 8, 2008 - The first reported illnesses begin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Nov. 25, 2008 - The CDC, working with state and local partners, begins an epidemiological assessment of a cluster of salmonella cases reported from 12 different states.

-- Dec. 21, 2008 - Shirley Mae Almer, 72, dies in a nursing home in Brainerd, Minn. On. Jan. 26, 2009, her relatives file suit against the operators of PCA and distributor King Nut Cos. saying their negligence caused her death. The complaint says her death was a direct result of eating peanut butter infected by a salmonella strain linked to the nationwide outbreak.

-- Jan. 8, 2009 - The Food and Drug Administration visits an Ohio distributor for Peanut Corp. of America.

-- Jan. 9, 2009 - The FDA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture initiate an environmental investigation at the PCA plant.

-- PCA voluntarily stops production of peanut butter and peanut paste at the Blakely, Ga., plant.

-- Jan. 10, 2009 - King Nut announces a recall of peanut butter manufactured by PCA and distributed under the King Nut label.

-- The Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health confirm that laboratory analyses show a genetic match between the strains of salmonella bacteria found in a container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter and the strains of bacteria associated with 30 illnesses in Minnesota and nearly 400 illnesses around the country.

-- Jan. 13, 2009 - PCA announces a voluntary recall of peanut butter produced in its Blakely, Ga., processing plant on or after July 1, 2008, because of possible salmonella contamination.

-- Jan. 16, 2009 - Food inspectors confirm the presence of salmonella bacteria in an unopened five-pound tub of peanut butter found at a Connecticut food distributor.

-- PCA announces an expanded recall of peanut butter produced on or after Aug. 8, 2008, in its Blakely, Ga., processing plant as well as the voluntary recall of peanut paste produced in the same plant on or after Sept. 26, 2008, because of possible salmonella contamination.

-- Jan. 18, 2009 - PCA expands the recall of peanut butter and voluntarily recalls peanut paste made at its Blakely, Ga., plant on or after July 1, 2008.

-- Jan. 27, 2009 - The FDA finishes its investigation of the PCA plant and reports on its inspection. Click here for a list of problems observed by FDA investigators during their inspection.

-- Federal officials say PCA failed to tell inspectors that after samples sent to a contract lab for testing in 2007 and 2008 tested positive for salmonella, the company got a second opinion from another lab and sold the food after the secondary tests came back negative.

-- Jan. 28, 2009 - PCA voluntarily recalls all peanuts and peanut products processed in its Blakely, Ga., plant since Jan. 1, 2007. The expanded recall includes all dry- and oil-roasted peanuts, granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter and peanut paste. The company stops producing all peanut products at the Blakely plant.

-- As of 9 p.m. EDT, 529 persons infected with salmonella typhimurium are reported from 43 states, according to the CDC. Additionally, one ill person is reported from Canada.

-- At least 431 peanut butter-containing products are recalled by 54 companies using ingredients produced by the PCA facility after July 1, 2008.

-- Jan. 29, 2009 - A combination of epidemiological analysis and laboratory testing by state officials in Minnesota and Connecticut, the FDA, and the CDC enable the FDA to confirm that the sources of the salmonella outbreak are peanut butter and peanut paste produced by the PCA at its Blakely, Ga., processing plant.

-- The Ohio Department of Health says two containers of peanut butter taken from a central Ohio nursing home have tested positive for salmonella.

-- Jan. 30, 2009 - Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's food safety center, says the Justice Department will investigate possible criminal violations by the PCA processing plant, assisted by FDA investigators.

-- Feb. 2, 2009 - President Barack Obama promises a comprehensive review of the FDA.

-- The salmonella outbreak prompts voluntary recalls by makers of more than 800 products. The recalls reach into Canada and Europe.

-- According to the CDC, 550 cases in 43 states are tallied, with the most recent reported illness beginning on Jan. 17, 2009.

-- Feb. 3, 2009 - The Associated Press learns that a peanut processing plant in Plainview, Texas, run by the PCA has operated for years uninspected and unlicensed by government health officials.

-- Feb. 5, 2009 - The U.S. Agriculture Department suspends PCA from participating in government contract programs for at least a year. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack removes Stewart Parnell, PCA president, from the USDA's Peanut Standards Board.

-- Federal officials say that nearly 168,000 emergency meal kits sent to Kentucky after an ice storm were recalled more than two weeks earlier.

-- According to the CDC, 575 cases are counted in 43 states with the most recent reported illness beginning on Jan. 22, 2009.

-- Feb. 6, 2009 - The Agriculture Department says that it shipped possibly contaminated peanut butter and other foods to free school-lunch programs in California, Minnesota and Idaho in 2007 under a contract with PCA.

-- Corpus Christi Catholic School in Colorado Springs, Colo., closes early after a student is diagnosed with salmonella poisoning.

-- February 10, 2009 - Tests show a possible presense of salmonella at the PCA plant in Plainview, Texas.  A sign on the door says the plant is temporarily closed.

-- February 11, 2009 - A 9th victim dies of salmonella and news reports indicate there is a connection to PCA products.

-- The President of PCA, Stewart Parnell, pleads his 5th Amendment rights and refuses to offer any other comments in front of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

-- February 12, 2009 -  The Texas Department of State Health Services ordered a recall of all products from the Plainview, Texas plant after discovering dead rodents, rodent excrement, and bird feathers in a crawl space above a production area in the plant.

-- February 13, 2009 - Police in Plainview, Texas are told that there is suspicious activity in the plant just after midnight.  At 1:30 am an officer confirms that there are employees inside but there is no apparant violation of state law or local ordinance.  Police report the activity to investigators with the Food & Drug Administration but take no further action.

-- Peanut Corporation of America files for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lynchburg, Virginia.

-- February 14, 2009 -  A newspaper report says that six salmonella cases in Colorado have been linked to tainted products from the PCA plant in Plainview, Texas.  The Colorado victims were between the ages of 2 and 60. One had to be hospitalized.

-- February 18, 2009 - A former PCA worker from the Plainview plant speaks to NewsChannel 11 on the condition that his face is not shown and his real name is not used.  He describes a leaky roof, mice, and workers not always using gloves & hair nets.  He says that conditions were worse when he first started working at PCA and improved over time.

-- February 23, 2009 - Texas officials indicate that they will take over the recall of products from the Plainview facility and then charge PCA for the costs of the recall.

-- February 24, 2009 - Newspaper reports indicate an exapnded recall of ice cream products made in Iowa, which contained peanuts from the Plainview PCA facility.

-- Identical strains of salmonella are found at both the Blakely, Georgia plant and the Plainview, Texas plant.  Officials are quoted as saying this might sugest cross contamination.

Sources:  FDA, CDC, Associated Press, KCBD Archives 
Portions Edited by AP Researcher Julie Reed

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