Margins Of Terror: Just How Unsafe Is Our Food Supply?

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has a doozy of a hearing scheduled for today beginning at 10 am ET on the "Salmonella Outbreak: The Continued Failure to Protect the Food Supply."  

C-Span will have coverage.  C-Span3 has a hearing with TARP-recipient bank CEOs at the same time.  Ought to be a doozy of a morning.

From the committee release yesterday, the following witnesses "have been invited":

— Jeffrey Almer
— Lou Tousignant
— Peter K. Hurley
— Stewart Parnell, President, Peanut Corporation of America*
— Sammy Lightsey, Plant Manager, Peanut Corporation of America
— Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration
— Oscar Garrison, Consumer Protection Division, Georgia Department of Agriculture
— Darlene Cowart, President, J. Leek Associates, Inc.
— Charles Deibel, President, Deibel Laboratories 

* The Committee voted on February 10, 2009 to compel the testimony of Stewart Parnell.

Interesting line-up, isn’t it?  Should provide quite a few testimonial fireworks, and not an inconsequential amount of "Representative Waxman, I decline to answer that question on advice of counsel" responses.

This hearing is a continuation of a series of hearings (YouTube) that the committee has held over the past few years on the increasing worries of taint, infestation and other problems within the nation’s food chain.  And with products coming from outside our borders — you’ll likely remember the melamine scares from a few months ago as one example.

One other witness not listed above will be Bill Marler, whose interview with an online cattle publication on food safety reforms was one I quoted on Monday.  

Marler has popped up a copy of proposed written testimony (PDF) on his own blog, which he will submit to the subcommittee today.   It is blunt and gets right to the point on needed reforms.

I wanted to highlight this (PDF):

The time has come to act and not continue simply to react. Consumers, Farmers, Suppliers, Manufacturers, Retailers, Regulators and Politicians need to work together to make our food supply safe, profitable and sustainable. When a quarter of our population is sickened yearly by contaminated food, when thousands die, we do not have the “safest food supply in the world.” We should, must and can do better. In closing, none of this will stop bacterial and viral illnesses entirely. These invisible poisons have been around a long time. However, these eight steps will enable us to help prevent it, help detect it far more quickly, to alert stores and families, and to keep our most vulnerable citizens – kids and seniors – out of harm’s way.

Amen. It’s a shame when avarice overcomes basic decency, and when the risk of poisoning the elderly and children isn’t enough to keep rats, feces, bugs and other hazards out of your manufacturing facility. But here we are.

NOTE: I’m planning to record the hearing — because my FIL’s dialysis pick-up happens right in the middle of the hearing’s start.  I’ll certainly be following along once I get home.  YouTube above is a Bill Moyers interview with Michael Pollan — great stuff.


 
105 Responses to "Margins Of Terror: Just How Unsafe Is Our Food Supply?"
Elliott | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:01 am 1

Good morning Christy, so glad you aren’t letting this go.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:04 am 2
In response to Elliott @ 1

Morning — I can’t help myself. Honestly, the stupidity of the “regulations” as they stand now compels me to mock them.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:07 am 3

another example of profit at any cost, in this case the health of the consumer
there is no excuse for this ,the owners of the plant belong behind bars


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:13 am 4

The only good thing about the story is that Henry will be there to shame them into telling the truth. Or, try to anyway. We need more Henrys, I think. I do agree with you about the potential for lots of My attorney told me not to answer that question type of answers. How can they be so transparent? But then, they get to self-regulate, so I guess it’s the same answer as a bunch of stuff. They don’t care what we think or how sick we get.
Wish I could watch this today, but, I’m betting you’ll do a nice follow up report. Thanks in advance for that. *g*


pajarito | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:14 am 5

Food plant inspection, mandatory sampling and independent laboratory analysis at all nodes of the food chain would provide employment for a technical work force and stimulate the economy. Arguably, health care workers and system less burdoned by food-borne illness could attend other urgent needs with no loss of income there.


AZ Matt | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:15 am 6
In response to billybugs @ 3

Hey! There is a bug in my soup!


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:17 am 7

Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” more than 100 years ago after which Congress passed the Food and Drug Act (which has been blocked by the industry), but our benighted “conservatives” have done everything in their power to roll back regulatory protections (sound familiar?).

In recent years, the momentum has shifted. Since the Reagan era, conservatives have tried to turn “government regulation” into an epithet. Books like “The Death of Common Sense,” a 1990’s best-seller, have twisted the facts to argue that laws like a New York ordinance requiring restaurants to clean dishes in a way that kills salmonella are somehow an infringement on liberty.

Food safety has been particularly hard-hit by this anti-regulatory climate. Harmful bacteria are rampant in meatpacking plants and in produce fields, but government oversight is eroding. The Bush administration has slashed the number of Food and Drug Administration inspectors, and it has installed a former lobbyist for the cattle industry as the Agriculture Department’s chief of staff.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01…..2tue4.html


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:19 am 8

Morning, If Bush was still in the WH Stewart Parnell would be in line to be placed in charge of one of the regulatory agencies.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:19 am 9

Good Morning Christy and Puppies.

I’ve been steaming about this critical issue since Reaganistas began following Norquist’s little parade and rolling back all regulations.

I’ll take a wild guess, in agreement with both you and Elliot and a whole lot of others. This is a critical issue putting our country in grave danger. Yet no one in power has appeared to give a whit about bringing food and product safety under better control if doing so showed the slightest hint of costing us a dime. Willful blindness has been in charge. It’s well past time for change.

Thank you for this post!


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:19 am 10

Here’s my youtube contribution for today.
Found A Peanut http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwUxqgX9-u8


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:20 am 11

So, will the Obama administration do for food safety what they have done for the banking industry predators?


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:20 am 12
In response to billybugs @ 3

They’ve apparently closed a second plant, BTW. More salmonella found in their TX plant — sloppy production practices, you ask? I bet Henry will…


AZ Matt | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:20 am 13

I think Georgia needs to be really serious about getting its inspectorial act together. They kill a section of their economy everytime this happens. Peanut Corp has a Texas plant with problems too.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:21 am 14
In response to demi @ 4

Will try and do a follow-up. Have my TIVO set and, if it actually works properly today, plan on watching the hearing.


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:21 am 15

The FDA needs to be granted the authority to issue a recall with or without the companies permission.


perris | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:21 am 16

Just How Unsafe Is Our Food Supply?

errr

bush appointed the oversite peopleage, so take it from there

the very goal was to undermine government agnecies, this agency was not exception


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:22 am 17
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 7

Boy, those regulations sure suck when you have to take yer kid or grandma to the ER after they’ve ingested tainted food, don’t they? Asshats.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:22 am 18
In response to foothillsmike @ 8

LOL yeah ,the FDA !!


Millineryman | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:23 am 19

Well good thing the power structure has changed in Deee Ceee. If Junior and his Band of Knitwits were still in charge, we’d probably have to take our shoes off to buy peanut butter also.

Digg is open and serving up safe, fresh and sustainable information.


Elliott | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:23 am 20
In response to demi @ 10

obviously that peanut came from the Peanut Corporation of America


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:24 am 21

I had a case of food poisoning several years ago , I can tell you it wasn’t a pleasant experience !


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:25 am 22

You can have all of the regulations in the world but if they are not enforced what do you have.


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:27 am 23

Asshats indeed. Democrats need to mount a take no prisoners approach and reclaim the moral high ground in all aspects of government regulation.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:27 am 24
In response to foothillsmike @ 22

I think you have to start by giving a crap about the people you are supposed to be protecting instead of protecting the companies that you are supposed to be inspecting.

But maybe it’s just me…


nonplussed | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:28 am 25

“Let them eat cake!” is no longer operative, after all cake is expensive. It is now “Let them eat shit, rats, roaches, mold, samonella, e coli and whatever gross stuff may contaminating our facilities. Nothing is too good for our people, so we feed them this instead.”


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:29 am 26
In response to foothillsmike @ 22

most government regulatory agencies have been ham strung by a lack of funding .
it takes $$ to hire inspectors


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:30 am 27
In response to Elliott @ 20

We’ve been talking about this for a while. I can’t believe it took me so long to remember that song. And, for anyone who is going to have it running through their brain all morning, I do apologize. Kind of. Ha Ha.
I don’t digg tainted peanuts or the FDA, but I dugg this story.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:32 am 28

Listening to NPR yesterday, it sounded as if this latest scare over the safety of peanut products has promise of helping fuel a major push to clean up our regulatory mess. Peanut farmers are absolutely, justifiably livid. Their livelihood, and a major major consumable product has just plummeted in value for the forseeable future because of carelessness at processing plants and lack of necessary regulations.

Here, Mr. Norquist. Have a nice little package of surplus peanut butter crackers with your lunch, on me.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:33 am 29
In response to Adie @ 28

This is why the local health food co-op place is suddenly really, really busy around the “grind yer own” peanut butter machine.


pajarito | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:34 am 30

Yeah, and that Texas plant was unknown to the FDA or USDA…no knowledge…for at least two years. The plant was known and occasionally inspected by TX health department.

A great example of the lack of cooperation among federal and state health agencies. Classic BushCo deregulation: divide and conquer.


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:34 am 31

I don’t think it’s just you. I think a lot of folks here give a crap. We just have to remember to wash our hands with soap and hot water before we prepare food. And, if so inclined, say a little prayer that the food be pure and appreciated.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:35 am 32

Tech trouble here. Could some kind soul please help? I can’t figure out where to click in order to reply to a specific comment. D’Oh! Frustrating!


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:36 am 33
In response to pajarito @ 30

Makes you wonder how much more of our food gets laundered from an unknown plant address to a known one in order for us to eat it, doesn’t it? The internets are huge…and yet a big manufacturing facility for peanut butter apparently has deregulation stealth technology.

Lovely.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:36 am 34

Dugg !!

When I think of all the peanut butter the kids in my program eat, I’m surprised no one got sick.

I think as we pull back the curtain ,that a lot more of these regulatory lapses will be exposed ,we do have regulations in place to protect us from this stuff , but they don’t do any good without inspectors to help enforce them


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:37 am 35
In response to billybugs @ 26

This is quite true but they have also been hamstrung by Bush appointees who have deliberately focused the mission of the agencies towards placating the industries they were supposed to be overseeing


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:37 am 36

OT
Interesting news, tangentially related to FDL.

Courtesy of a post by siun, perhaps a year ago, I bought a painting of an Iraqi artist.

Now it turns out that an American soldier who writes poetry, wants to use it as cover art for his second book. Here’s his first one.
http://www.amazon.com/Here-Bul…..038;sr=1-1

BTW, Cristy, I couldn’t get scripted box to work for the link. It placed it at the beginning of the comment, not where I had highlighted. Also, show text does not work for me on your site. Both work fine on other FDL subsidiaries.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:37 am 37
In response to billybugs @ 34

The Peanut eats a LOT of peanut butter. A LOT. So this is not going over well at our house, let me tell you.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:37 am 38
In response to eCAHNomics @ 36

Thanks — will make a note of that for the tech folks.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:38 am 39
In response to Adie @ 32

except to my own comments! ?! It’s boring talking to myself. aaaarrrrrrgggghhh!


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:39 am 40

Thanks much for all the diggs, gang. Just a note on digg-ing: if folks will also leave a comment here and there, it helps boost the link at digg, for some weird reason that has to do with how they do that sort of thing over there.

I just learned that recently, and thought I’d pass that knowledge on to everyone else.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:40 am 41
In response to Adie @ 32

Refresh your screen — we’re having a weird glitch that causes some of the reply buttons to not show up until you refresh. We’re working on it — haven’t pinpointed the coding issue as yet…


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:41 am 42

PC, IE, if they need that info.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:41 am 43
In response to Adie @ 32

I see the same thing ,have to refresh page a couple of times before the “reply ” shows up your comment had no reply


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:41 am 44
In response to eCAHNomics @ 36

Very cool, eCAHN! Heard an interview with Brian Turner fairly recently. Oh, and very nice that Amazon has Tim O’Brien’s “Things They Carried” paired with it…another great book.


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:42 am 45
In response to Adie @ 39

It disappeared for me too then came back after I refreshed.


Bluetoe2 | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:42 am 46

Some have suggested there needs to be a Department of Food. The author of “The Onmivore’s Dilema” has a new book, the title escapes me, that is a critique of how America feeds itself.


selise | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:42 am 47

in addition to the zombie banker hearing that christy mentions,… this morning, geithner will be testifying again – this time before the senate budget committee (which includes senators sanders, feingold and whitehouse).

this afternoon the house ag committee will be marking up legislation to regulate derivatives (doesn’t look like enough to me, but at least it’s something). they’ve been holding hearings on this since, i think, september.

the day’s list is at oxdown.


AZ Matt | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:42 am 48

I am making a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich this morning to take to work. It is an organic product from California.

I would be suing the Peanut Corp of America if I were a Georgia farmer.


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:43 am 49

Good to know.
But, sheesh, Christy, we have to give a crap, digg AND leave comments? I’ll be exhausted by the time I leave for work.
I hope you know I am So Kidding. *g*


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:43 am 50
In response to Adie @ 39

A big resounding Roseannadanna “Nevermind!” from here gang!
Apologies! F5 is my friend; rinse and repeat. heh.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:44 am 51
In response to eCAHNomics @ 42

FYI — when I do the link thingy — it puts the HTML for the link up correctly, the only issue being that you need to put text between the first set of brackets and the second set with the a/ in it.

The text that goes in the middle is where the link will be anchored as a click-thru. Does that makes sense?

So if you wanted to do a link to a NYTImes article you’d put the link in using the JAVA click notation at the top right, and then type in the words NYTimes article between the two sets of brackets and it should add your link in properly there.

The problem comes in where there is no text added, and the link then truncates if it’s a long one because there is no text to hyperlink for the HTML.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:46 am 52

Thanks for not being shy, my dear. Any way we can help? Give us a high sign. ;->


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:46 am 53
In response to AZ Matt @ 48

I would also be suing if I had gotten sick and I would name everyone in a management position individually.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:47 am 54

We need not worry about this problem ,soon none of us will be able to afford processed foods !!!


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:47 am 55
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 44

I was just scanning the reviews at amazon. Seems the professionals don’t much care for his poetry, but it resonates to for the amateurs. I never heard of him before. Think I’ll require an autographed copy of the book and a meeting with the author in exchange for my permission. I’m sure he’ll be somewhere in the NYC area at some point in the next year. He seems like an interesting person to meet, and perhaps we could arrange for some other FDLers to be there. Maybe even a book salon when the book comes out. Going to print in a couple of months, according to the email I received.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:48 am 56
In response to billybugs @ 54

One of the many, many reasons I’m planning a larger kitchen garden this year. *g*


oldgold | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:48 am 57

A lot of the food processing plants have beeen de-unionized over the past quarter century. This has put the safety of our food in greater peril. Workers without uinon protection are less likely to blow the whistle on unsafe practices or occurrences.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:49 am 58
In response to AZ Matt @ 48

I would be suing the Peanut Corp of America if I were a Georgia farmer.

From that NPR story yesterday, it sounded as if that’s precisely what the farmers were planning.


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:49 am 59

I’m a moron about these things, so your instructions make no sense to me. All I know is the way that works fine for me on other FDL sites does not work on yours.


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:51 am 60
In response to selise @ 47

Not sure I can stomach more of Geithner but I’m champing at the bit for the bankers hearing.


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:52 am 61
In response to oldgold @ 57

Many food processing plants have hired undocumented workers who are afraid to say anything let alone unionize.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:52 am 62
In response to eCAHNomics @ 59

I’m not great at them either — maybe someone who is better at explaining can show you.

You can’t use the type of brackets that are used for commands because the site tries to use them to make a link. But let me try using (TEXT HERE) for

You’ll see (a href=”LINK HERE”) (/a)

What you need to do is (a href=”LINK HERE”)NYTimes article or whatever(/a)

See — you need the name in the middle there in order for the link to attach to a hyperlinked text in your comment.


demi | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:53 am 63

I’m thinking that whatever consequences that come from the hearing/investigation, they should also involve the promise that not one worker get laid off due to whatever fines the corporations have to pay. Am I being to presumptuous here?


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:53 am 64

And again, the pointy- bracket things didn’t show up in the example above — but where you see a parenthetical, think the pointy brackets (whose name escapes me) instead.


nonplussed | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:57 am 65
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 46

The author of “The Onmivore’s Dilema” has a new book, the title escapes me, that is a critique of how America feeds itself.

That would be Michael Pollan, his new book is “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”


foothillsmike | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:58 am 66
In response to demi @ 63

What will happen is that the company will file bankruptcy. Then start up again as a new corporation. Go after the individuals in management too! Make the company worker owned.


eCAHNomics | Wednesday February 11, 2009 06:59 am 67
In response to nonplussed @ 65

Saw him on book-tv within the last couple of months. He’s a hoot and interesting to boot.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:01 am 68
In response to billybugs @ 54

shelled nuts, salt, Cuisinart-type processor. If you can afford the processor, it will pay for itself in a hurry. Stay out of the big-box store for this one. You need a direct-drive (no belts to break and slip), powerful lil’ machine. I think the med-lge Cuis. is now $200 + tax. Worth saving up for.

Another grand oldie but incredibly reliable machine: KitchenAid mixer. Mine has been working hard for 45 years plus, on everything from fluffy cakes on through dense egg-noodle dough that would cause an “ordinary” mixer to smoke in protest; hundreds of loaves of bread; homemade sausage and hamburgers; precisely chopped ingredients for relishes etc…. They’re not cheap, but you only have to buy it once. Mine will outlast ME, I have no doubt. No, you can’t have it yet. I still need it, heh.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:04 am 69
In response to eCAHNomics @ 60

He’s incredibly annoying to listen to or look at, when he’s “on show”, but I wonder what you think of his knowledge, policy leanings et al. I can stand annoying, if it’s going to work well.


Millineryman | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:06 am 70
In response to Adie @ 68

Funny thing about those Kitchen-Aid mixers, I hardly ever see them on sale for more then say $20 off, and they are excluded from store coupons too. They are great I will say that.


Elliott | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:08 am 71

hearing started
CSPAN link


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:08 am 72
In response to demi @ 63

the plant will most likely close down , leading to the loss of jobs for the workers
if the workers are lucky they will be able to collect un-employment benefits if they are undocumented they will get nothing


FreedomNow | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:09 am 73

Our food supply is still the safest in the world. Only two folks have died in this last salmonella “outbreak” with less than 300 made mildly ill. The costs you speak of do not make the cost/benefit analysis required in a recession economy.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:14 am 74
In response to Adie @ 68

if there is a silver lining to this economic crisis, it may be people getting back to the basics ,growing and preparing your own food , doing your own home repairs, saving your money, fixing your own car
you know ,the stuff previous generations did as a matter or course !


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:14 am 75
In response to Millineryman @ 70

They’re all over the place. I can’t figure out how they stay in business, because they break all the rules about planned obsolescence. They will do ANYTHING.

My neighbor who shops garage sales, discount stores, etc., has given up on at least six individual mixers of other types. In essence, she has paid many times over what I did for my Kitchenaid. At least on that item, my pretty-much iron clad philosophy* paid me back many-fold [*do without until you can buy it outright, then buy the toughest, most reliable product you can get your hands on, and plan to keep it and take good care of it] I can’t fault Kitchenaid for their price. It’s what they’re worth.


diablesseblu | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:16 am 76

This is in part due to sheer greed and unadulterated avarice on the part of the plant owners. My grandfather owned a successful meatpacking operation for many years (yeh..would not have been my choice for a family business). They did it all in terms of hogs/cows, including making sausage, hot dogs.

This small business had an excellent reputation and provided enough profit for our family to live a happily middle class life. Most important to him, his children and grandchildren were able to attend the colleges of their choice.

Guess he could have made more money but he never skimped on cleanliness, safety or salaries for his guys. Most of them spent their entire working lives there. The other huge difference from today’s meat producing facilities, there was a state inspector who was there almost fulltime.

The inspector’s name was Gene. He used to kid that he begged to come to that plant because he knew his work would be easier. The owner wanted to do whatever was required, and more, to keep make his products safe.


selise | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:17 am 77
In response to eCAHNomics @ 60

sorry, i was just setting up recording for both…. plan to listen to zombie bankers live and geither later by mp3.


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:18 am 78
In response to Adie @ 75

I like your “iron clad philosophy ” pay cash and buy the best that you can afford , maintain it and keep it forever !!


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:18 am 79
In response to FreedomNow @ 73

Wrong. At least 8 deaths, and 575 illnesses. You think food poisoning is “mild,” here have a peanut cracker.

http://www.latimes.com/news/na…..3500.story


Millineryman | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:19 am 80
In response to Adie @ 75

I know they are. I just find it funny that they are never really on sale around these parts. They are well worth the money.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:19 am 81
In response to FreedomNow @ 73

Wrong — at least eight people have died and over 600 others in 44 states have been sickened just from this particular peanut butter outbreak issue.

Peanut Corporation owns three peanut-processing plants, in Georgia, Texas and Virginia.

The federal investigation into the salmonella outbreak, which has killed eight people and sickened 600 others in 44 states, has centered on the company’s Blakely, Ga., plant, which was shut down last month.

Do doublecheck your facts before trying to spin, thanks. It saves me the time of having to correct inaccuracies.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:22 am 82
In response to Adie @ 75

You can also sometimes get a “rebuilt” one from amazon and other vendors. That’s what mine was — it was a bit cheaper, had a brand new motor in it, and it’s worked perfectly — and busily — for close to 5 years now.


Millineryman | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:25 am 83

I was impressed by Walden offering Parnell some contaminated product in his opening statement.


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:25 am 84

Freedumb allows us to witness firsthand the kind of monstrous amorality and criminal stupidity that has allowed the food industry to kill and terrorize Americans.


Millineryman | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:26 am 85

Gees I never thought about a rebuilt one. I like that idea.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:26 am 86
In response to billybugs @ 74

-um, harumph- slight correction, or at least notation of an aberration.

My mom and dad did not, but we, the “next” generation, DID pretty much live off the land, but skills were self-taught from books, other gardeners, local farmers, attending 4H meetings (can you imagine the “ohhhh MOMM!”s as I asked questions on goat care and milking skills, right along with the kids? *g*)

Every year for quite awhile, we traded 2 plump juicy, organically grown roasting chickens to our neighbor for the use of his log-splitter for our firewood. And the neighbors thought they got the best of the deal (secret: when weeding your garden, toss what weeds you don’t use for mulch to your chickens; flavor fit for kings).
Our goats were good and dear pets who happened to give milk on the side. They taught responsibility to our children. It’s harder to ignore your sweet friend bleating that it’s milking time, than it is to ignore mom’s shouting and haranguing. *g*

Those were wonderful years. The kids: both pro musician training, one a dazzling computer whiz, but they still know how to milk a goat, and always visit the goat barn every year at the county fair. priceless…..


billybugs | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:27 am 87
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 79

I had a case of food poisoning several years ago. There is no such thing as a mild case of food poisoning think stomach flu, only 10 times worse.
I was a healthy 20 something when I got it, I was sick for days and lost about 10 pounds, I sympathize with anyone who gets sick like this.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:27 am 88
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 84

Well, I don’t think we need to resort to name-calling. But I do wish that if folks were going to grouse about thing, they’d at least check that their own facts were accurate beforehand. It’s the very least they could do…


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:28 am 89

Excellent idea! I didn’t know about that. Thanks.


Prairie Sunshine | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:28 am 90

Just in case you haven’t seen this yet, Christy, I ran across a telling piece of video from a local tv station in VA. You can view it via the link in this graph of my Oxdown diary, Nuts!:

From the New York Times’ article, we learn that Peanut Corporation of America has an interesting location for its corporate headquarters. Lynchburg, Virginia, best known as the hometown of Liberty University and the Jerry Falwell empire.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:28 am 91

must go. back later. Thanks MUCH for this post Christy and Puppies!


Prairie Sunshine | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:29 am 92

Ack! (re my comment #90) Text was there in preview, I swear.

Nice page, Christy!


WarOnWarOff | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:31 am 93
In response to billybugs @ 87

Indeed; has some kind of food poisoning myself several years ago myself. I shudder to think how the elderly or children would cope.


Hugh | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:35 am 94
In response to eCAHNomics @ 60

I think the information content of the financial executives hearing is going to be zero. From the little I’ve heard from opening statements, it is going to run something like this. Congress members: My constituents are concerned about how you have been spending government money.
Financial CEO: We do important work to support the economy, we are good people, and we will twist the numbers like crazy to support this view.


oldgold | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:41 am 95

If these Congressional hearing are ever going to produce much more than bilge, the format has to change. My suggestion would be for each party to select counsel and have them question the witnesses. After a thorough examination by counsel, then the grandstanders [the Reps and Sens] would be allowed about 2 minutes each.


Hugh | Wednesday February 11, 2009 07:43 am 96

Goldman guy said that the company had done well if you didn’t count the financial collapse bit and they didn’t have any golden parachutes. So the $800 million that Paulson got when he left was to be accurate not considered to be a golden parachute.

Dimon from JP Morgan, now saying that his bank lent a $150 billion despite lower consumer demand for loans making it sound like it’s other people’s fault that more is not being lent. He doesn’t say zilch about the terms of those loans. Actually talks about the patiotic work they did buying up Bear Stearns. This is what I wrote about that selfless act of patriotism in my scandals list:

On March 16, 2008, JPMorgan agreed to buy Bear Stearns which had been heavily involved in the subprime crisis and suffered accordingly for $236 million or about $2 a share. Bear Stearns stock had traded as high as $172 in January 2006. The Fed assumed up to $30 billion in risk for the company’s shakier investments. Basically, JPMorgan got Bear Stearns’ assets and the Fed guaranteed its debts

These guys have only been talking about 10 minutes and I am already getting pissed by the doubletalk and hypocrisy.


Elliott | Wednesday February 11, 2009 08:05 am 97

Well Markey’s opening statement is sure full of nothing.


BargainCountertenor | Wednesday February 11, 2009 08:55 am 98
In response to FreedomNow @ 73

Aside from your facts being wrong, relying on the human immune system to keep a company’s ass safe is immoral.

Yes, it’s true that the mouth, stomach, intestines, etc are amazingly hostile environments for most foreign microbes. And yes, it’s also true that it’s probably impossible to lower the bacterial count to zero, because the things are literally everywhere.

However, in food production you want that count to be as low as you can make it. By doing so, you provide a safety cushion for your product. Cleaning up after making nut butters is a real pain. But how much is this recall costing PCA directly? How much have they lost in good-will? How much will they lose when they settle the lawsuits stemming from the deaths? I’m going to hazard a WAG that the costs of any one of those things would have more than covered periodic cleaning and careful maintenance of the sanitation equipment. All three together? Way more.

When businesses make decisions like PCA did (it’s not economically feasible to run a clean operation), then they should either re-evaluate and figure out what costs they omitted in the Cost-Benefit Analysis, or they should get out of the business. Basically, if an occurrence has a probability greater than 0, it is certain to happen in the long run. And producing tens of thousands of servings of a food product daily means that you have to consider the long run.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 09:09 am 99
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 98

Damn you and your legal/business/cost-benefit analysis logical skills. *g*


FreedomNow | Wednesday February 11, 2009 09:15 am 100
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 79

I continue to enjoy peanut butter crackers…they’re good and I like them…


FreedomNow | Wednesday February 11, 2009 09:18 am 101
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 98

This outrage is largely manufactured…and some decent tort reform would protect companies against greedy trial lawyers. Heck, I read that one of the passengers on the USAir flight STILL wants to the company even with the heroism of Capt. Sully. Outrageous…


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday February 11, 2009 09:59 am 102
In response to FreedomNow @ 101

How, exactly, would tort reform stop bad businesses practices, shopping your product around to get a better lab result if the first batch tested positive for salmonella, and a whole host of other issues that this particular plant had? Honestly, that makes no sense whatsoever.

Tort reform and/or litigation have nothing whatsoever to do with not running a clean plant. But not running a clean plant has a direct impact on the quality of product you put out — be it food or plastics or anything else. Normally, you would think that a good business with decent management would see bad product and the resulting bad publicity as a disincentive. But these folks got test results that were bad — repeatedly — and then kepy on pushing out the product, for YEARS, knowing that it was a good possibility that someone might get sick and/or die from eating it.

In my old line of work as an assistant prosecutor, we called that negligent manslaughter. Or worse, depending on the set of circumstances — knowingly sending something out that could cause illness or death makes you responsible for the results therefrom. And the people who were doing legal work for this company? Should have known that, too.


Adie | Wednesday February 11, 2009 10:41 am 103
In response to Millineryman @ 80

I suspect they have some price-control agreement in effect with anyone who is allowed to sell them, much like Cuisinart.

I should back up a bit on my erroneous iron-clad bravado as regards “always buying the best”, though.

NOT TRUE.

If cheap’r’n dirt will serve as well, I do not buy at all. For instance, little containers for making and storing salad dressing and seasoned salt, little nested containers for lining up ingredients in prep. for a big whing-ding Chinese stir-fry…. I NEVER buy those types of containers new. There are always freebies available every time you finish a little jar of just the right size, with a shaker top &/or a tight-fitting lid, empty cups and lids and such. I’m still using my collection of those from 40+ years ago also.


pajarito | Wednesday February 11, 2009 11:52 am 104
In response to Adie @ 103

Adie, bravo!

My adorable wife (much younger–another generation) thinks we need to buy purpose built storage containers…whole drawer full. I demonstrated you just save the plastic margarine, yogurt, ice cream etc. containers, wash them, and you have all you need. Even wash out and reuse plastic freezer bags. Her teen kids, raised on years of throwing things away, still can’t get used to it.

They are coming around, though. We even raised and slaughtered our own beef lately…now that is an experience!

Next chapter, making 200 lbs. of sausage at home!


NealDeesit | Wednesday February 11, 2009 12:18 pm 105
In response to AZ Matt @ 6

Hey! There is a bug in my soup!

That’s not a bug; it’s a feature!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal; it’s been inspected…sorta.


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