Deadly Bacilli in Food Supply: This Isn't a National Security Issue?!There's a war on: presumably starting a small plague, making Americans fear peanut butter, and coming close to crippling part of the food industry could be considered an act of terror.
No, I don't think that the boss of PCA is in league with Al Qaeda. It looks like he's a businessman who knew that keeping expenses down is important - and had no clue about what can happen to a company that kills people with tainted food.
The point is that what Peanut Corporation of America did to this country is the sort of thing that terrorists might want to accomplish: spread fear, kill some people, and damage the American economy. It seems to me that this is something that the Department of Homeland Security should be interested in.
Maybe someone on Capitol Hill will think of that.
I rather hope so: This peanut problem is what happened when one clueless corporate head sabotaged his own company. If someone with access to part of America's food supply wanted to cause damage, I think things could be much worse.
Tainted Peanuts: Publicity, But the Wrong KindPeanut Corporation of America is now famous: known around the world as the company that killed nine people (so far), rather than lose money. As it stands today, Peanut Corporation of America stands to lose quite a lot of money anyway. And, if manufacturers of peanut-related products have any sense, every contract it ever had, or might get.
Cash Flow, Cutting Expenses, and Logical ConsequencesThe owner and president of PCA, Stewart Parnell, said, "On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer your questions based on the protection afforded me under the United States Constitution," several times today, instead of answering questions in a congressional hearing. (Reuters)
That's probably smart, since it looks like he wrote "turn them loose" after finding one lab that couldn't detect salmonella in his products. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Americans are a bit touchy about being sold tainted food to begin with, and with the economy in the shape it's in, I don't think Mr. Parnell is going to be well-liked anywhere in the country.
Salmonella, Cash Flow, Cluelessness, and the Peanut CorporationThere's no reason to believe that Mr. Parnell wanted to kill anyone: but it's hard to believe that he didn't know that 'salmonella poisoning,' or salmonellosis, is a serious disease. And, that it's not a good idea to hunt for one lab that can't find the bacilli. So far, his money-saving tactic has resulted in:
- Around 600 sick people
- Nine dead bodies
- Over 1,800 products recalled
- Millions of dollars lost by other companies
This Time, it's Personal: A Third of the Dead are MinnesotansI'm taking this peanut affair a bit more personally than some other topics. Three of the nine deaths were here in Minnesota, all of them in Brainerd care facilities:
- Shirley Mae Almer, 72, formerly of Perham
- Clifford Tousignant, 78, originally of Duluth
- Doris Flatgard, 87, apparently of Brainerd
(myFOX9.com, Brainerd Dispatch)
There are lawsuits, of course: directed against the King Nut, the company that supplied the tainted peanut butter, and the Peanut Corporation of America that gave King Nut tainted peanuts. Apparently, King Nut was expected to test for Salmonella, too.
Sloppy work, at best. I've written about this sort of thing before.
Next Time, Tainted Food Could Be Terrorist AttackGiven how easy it was to get salmonella-laced peanut butter spread across the country, a terrorist attack on America's food supply isn't at all inconceivable. Particularly since the boss of one plant, in what looks like a really stupid cost-cutting move, managed to:
- Kill nine people
- Infect around 600
- Make quite a few Americans afraid of peanut butter
- Damage part of the American food industry
More-or-less related posts:
- "Madoff's Ponzi Scheme, Laptops, Nipple Rings, and the War on Terror"
(December 17, 2008)
- "Remember Melamine? It's Baaaack!"
(October 4, 2008)
- "Assumptions; the Ames Anthrax Strain; Ames, Iowa, and Fort Deterick"
(August 15, 2008)
- "Anthrax Suspect: Mad Scientist? Frustrated Businessman? Victim of Conspiracy?"
(August 2, 2008)
- "China: Toxic Toys and Dubious Dumplings Aren't Signs of Terrorism"
(January 30, 2008)
- "Salmonella in Peanut Products: the Recall List and Widget"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (February 12, 2009)
- "Tainted Peanuts in America: Three of Nine Deaths are My State"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (February 11, 2009)
- "Lax Regulation In Peanut Factories"
CBS News (February 11, 2009)
- "Local peanut plant may be linked to salmonella 02-11-09"
Plainview Daily Herald (February 11, 2009)
- "Peanut factory owner takes Fifth in salmonella case"
Los Angeles Times (February 11, 2009)
- "U.S. peanut firm owner refuses to testify on salmonella"
Reuters (February 11, 2009)
- "Sen. Klobuchar issues statement on recalled peanuts "
HomeTownSource.com (February 11, 2009)
- "E-mails show company knew of salmonella, shipped anyway"
Atlanta Journal Constitution (February 11, 2009)
- "Peanut Corp. Gets Congressional Subpeona; Closes Texas Plant"
Health Blog, Wall Street Journal (February 11, 2009)
- "Cracking the case of the poison processed peanuts"
Atlanta Journal Constitution (February 9, 2009)
- "How Could it Happen? Salmonella Timeline"
Channel 9 News, Chattanooga, Tennessee (February 10, 2009)
- "Lawsuit Expected in Third Minnesota
myFOX9.com (January 28, 2009)
(Shirley Mae Almer, from Perham, Minnesota, was in Brainerd when she died )
- "All three state salmonella victims lived in Brainerd"
Brainerd Dipatch (January 28, 2009)
(Note: This paper requires visitors to fill out a lengthy and somewhat intrusive form before reading their articles. Not, in my opinion, a good idea ("Website Design: Just Because Everybody Else is Doing it - - - " Apathetic Lemming of the North (February 4, 2009))
- "Peanut plant knew of bacteria problem"
Atlanta Journal Constitution (January 28, 2009)
- "3rd death in Minnesota is linked to salmonella"
Minneapolis Star Tribune (January 23, 2009)
- "King Nut Issues Peanut Butter Recall"
U.S. Food and Drug Administration press release (January 10, 2009)