ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Jurors in Georgia are hearing evidence at the nation’s first federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly outbreak of food-borne illness. And after the first week of testimony, one fact stands out that may make people queasy: America’s food safety largely depends on the honor system.
Witnesses say Stewart Parnell and others at Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella before an outbreak that killed nine people and sickened 714 across 43 states five years ago.
Their plant was shut down, the company went bankrupt and the government ordered one of history’s largest food recalls, but by then consumers had been eating tainted peanut butter, ice cream, energy bars and other products for months.
Defense lawyers are repeatedly noting that salmonella tests aren’t even required by law.