“A rat was dry roasted in the peanuts”

The devastating quote in the headline to this story is from an employee recently laid off with many others at the Blakely, GA, plant of Peanut Corporation of America. He also said roaches regularly landed in the processing, blending in with dry roasted peanuts. (Click on the video below.)

You’ll rarely, if ever, outrun the news media. But, you should do everything you can to keep pace. In this case, the company hasn’t even tried.

PCA is a family-owned business run by Stewart Parnell. But we haven’t seen him or heard his voice. Indeed, no company representative has materialized, leaving the impression they’re hiding and giving merit to the charges of a filthy processing plant. This, despite PCA’s latest response by written statement, the only way the company has communicated:

There has been a great deal of confusing and misleading information
in the media. We want the public to know that there were regular visits and inspections of the Blakely facility by federal and state regulators in 2008. Independent audit and food safety firms also conducted customary unannounced inspections of the Blakely facility in 2008. One gave the plant an overall “superior” rating, and the other rated the plant as “Meet or Exceeds audit expectations (Acceptable-Excellent)” ratings. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the ongoing investigations, we will not be able to comment further about the facts related to this matter at this time.
(Including, of course, the possibility of criminal conduct by the company.)

PCA is done; whether the company’s claim is true seems moot at this point. Lawsuits by victims and manufacturing customers are piling up. Even the company’s own insurer is contesting its obligations in the suits by salmonella victims.

And since the news broke on the outbreak traced to its Georgia facility, AP and other news sources have reported PCA also owns a four year old plant in Plainview, TX, that’s never been inspected and does not hold a food manufacturing license. While there are no claims that facility also is a source of tainted product, it, too, is now being investigated.

Even had management been accessible and visible from the start, it’s hard to imagine that PCA could survive. Too many have been sickened, at least eight deaths appear to be connected, and the company’s many food manufacturing customers surely would not return.

Meanwhile, the list of recalls continues to expand.

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