The Georgia peanut butter plant at the center of the salmonella food poisoning crisis has a poor sanitation record, and has frequently been cited for health and sanitation violations, the NY Times (via Tort Deform) reports.Judging by the condition of the plant in our very own Blakely, Georgia, the media and food poisoning lawyers should not even be surprised that a nationwide outbreak of deadly salmonella poisoning has originated from this facility.
The Peanut Corporation of America plant has been cited several times since 2006 for health violations. Inspectors have frequently found the facility full of large gaping holes in its food security mechanisms. These include grease accumulation inside the facility, doors with large holes that a rat could easily squeeze through, and dirt and grime everywhere.The plant had areas caked with rust that could easily disperse and fall into food products, and poor sanitization of surfaces meant for food processing.Peanut butter packets were left lying around uncovered. These violations continued even till 2008, when inspection reports continued to mention numerous violations.
Dirty and unsanitary conditions breed rodents and insects.Animal feces are just one of the ways that the salmonellum bacterium spreads.The risk of infectious disease is the reason why food processing and preparation plants and establishments that serve food like restaurants, are put though numerous safety inspections.From the report in the Times, it seems like that the plant was a salmonellosis time bomb waiting to go off.
While the plant was getting away with maintaining unsanitary conditions that would have been more at place in a Third World rubber factory than an American food processing plant, the FDA in its usual somnambular fashion, was debating when best to alert Americans that hundreds of thousands of packets of their favorite peanut butter contained the salmonella bacterium besides peanuts, salt and hydrogenated vegetable oil.The very first product liability lawsuit has already been filed in a Georgia court by parents of a Vermont boy who became sick after consuming the contaminated butter.