Salmonella Victims to Call for Criminal Charges Against Former Peanut Corp. CEO

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amanda Hitt, Food Integrity Campaign Director
202.457.0034, ext. 159
amandah@whistleblower.org

Salmonella Victims to Call for Criminal Charges Against Former Peanut Corp. CEO

Press Conference to Be Held Tomorrow During GAP's Day-Long Food Whistleblower Protections Conference

WASHINGTON - Tomorrow, Friday, February 11th, at the American University Washington College of Law, Salmonella victims and their families will be sharing their stories at a press conference, and calling for criminal charges to be brought against former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) CEO Stewart Parnell.

The press conference, organized by the Marler Clark law firm, will be held during the lunch session of the Government Accountability Project's (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign Conference, Employee Rights and the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will analyze the far-reaching implications of new whistleblower protections for food industry workers, and the law's overall impact on food safety. GAP's conference runs all day and begins at 8:45 A.M. EST. For a complete conference agenda, click here.

The Marler Clark press conference will begin at 12:30 PM EST. Victims will speak for approximately five minutes each and take questions following their statements.

Background

In 2009, hundreds of companies recalled thousands of products made with PCA peanuts. At least 714 people became ill with Salmonella infections after eating those products, and nine died.

Victims and their families became outraged when, in the Congressional investigation that followed the outbreak, internal emails were uncovered which suggested that PCA founder and CEO Parnell knew his company was shipping Salmonella-contaminated peanuts.

Though he has litigated thousands of cases in his career, long time food safety attorney and advocate Bill Marler has never seen anything quite like what occurred in the PCA outbreak. “In my many years of handling food safety cases, I’ve yet to see a circumstance that has so clearly warranted criminal prosecution as the corporate mismanagement involved in the PCA outbreak,” said Marler, speaking on behalf of his law firm.

During a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, CEO Parnell refused to answer a single question, invoking his Fifth Amendment constitutional protection against self incrimination after each question. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been investigating Parnell and other leaders at PCA leading up to the Salmonella outbreak for two years; as yet no criminal charges have been brought against Parnell.

Family members of six PCA victims will speak at the press conference:

Lou Tousignant of Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lou's father, Clifford Tousignant, a Korean War veteran who was awarded three Purple Hearts during his service, died after consuming Salmonella-contaminated PCA products.  

Jeff Almer of Savage, Minnesota: Jeff’s mother, Shirley Mae Almer, died while in the care of a local nursing home less than two weeks after eating King Nut peanut butter containing PCA ingredients..
 
Peter Hurley of Portland, Oregon: Peter’s son Jacob, then 3 years old, fell ill with severe Salmonella symptoms for nearly two weeks from eating his favorite pre-packaged peanut butter cracker snack.
 
Larry and Karen Andrew of Salome, Arizona and Roseburg, Oregon: Karen Andrew was made violently ill from PCA products.
 
Shirley Hullett of Maiden, North Carolina: Shirley’s husband Bobby Ray died as a result of a Salmonella infection in November 2008.
 
Gabrielle Meunier of Burlington, Vermont: Gabrielle’s son Christopher was hospitalized due to a Salmonella infection during the 2008 PCA Salmonella outbreak.

Randy Napier of Medina, Ohio: Randy’s mother, Nellie Napier died in 2009 as a result of consuming King Nut peanut butter that contained PCA peanuts.
 
For more information regarding the press conference or to be put in touch with those victims who will be speaking, please contact Marler Clark's Cody Moore at 206.346.1878 or cmoore@marlerclark.com. For questions about the Food Integrity Campaign conference, please contact GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt at 202.457.0034, ext. 159, or amandah@whistleblower.org.

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The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

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