WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro here is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate whether the behavior of the Peanut Corporation of America warrants criminal prosecution.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that during the past two years, the company at the center of the widespread peanut butter recall had identified some type of Salmonella about a dozen times as part of its own internal testing program. It subsequently released product after it was retested. In some cases, retesting was conducted by a separate laboratory.
“The actions by the Peanut Corporation of America can only be described as reprehensible and criminal,” DeLauro said in a prepared statement. "Not only did this company knowingly sell tainted products, it shopped for a laboratory that would provide the acceptable results they were seeking.”
According to the FDA, the inspection also identified a number of deficiencies related to PCA’s cleaning procedures. Roaches, mold and a leaky roof were among the conditions observed by investigators, according to reports.
“Foods are supposed to be produced under conditions which will not render them injurious to health,” said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “In order to make sure that happens, food companies are supposed to be producing foods in accordance with good manufacturing practice standards. Whether or not there was any criminal activity involved is a different issue. We’re looking at this as a matter of producing food in accordance with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”
DeLauro will soon reintroduce the Food Safety Modernization Act, which would modernize food safety laws, and also split the FDA into two separate agencies. One would focus exclusively on food safety, and the other on drug and device safety.
"Unfortunately under our current system, punishing this company to the fullest extent possible would result only in a mere slap on the wrist because the Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to pursue adequate criminal sanctions," DeLauro said.
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