Ga. plant manager says mold, mildew at processor

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Ga. plant manager says mold, mildew at processor
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Greg Walden, Congressman (D-OR) holds a sample of recall food products during the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the salmonella outbreak associated with peanut butter Wednesday morning in Rayburn Building in SE DC. (Photo by Kevin Clark/Washington Post/Getty Images)
BLAKELY, GA - FEBRUARY 5: The front entrance of the Peanut Corporation of America Plant is seen February 5, 2009 in Blakely, Georgia. The plant is linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak from tainted peanut butter that has sickened over 500 people and prompted international product recalls. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Jeff Almer of Savage, Minn., appears on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing to examine the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products. His mother, mother, 72-year-old Shirley Mae Almer, shown in a family photo, died after eating tainted peanut butter at a Brainerd, Minn., assisted-living home. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE -In this Jan. 29, 2009 file photo, an Early County, Ga. Sheriff's car sits parked in front of the the Peanut Corporation of America processing plant in Blakely, Ga. A federal grand jury indicted four employees of a peanut company, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, linked to a 2009 salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds. The indictment was unsealed in federal court in Georgia and charges four employees with Virginia-based Peanut Corp. of America. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)
Three-year-old Jacob Hurley joins his father, Peter Hurley, at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations during a hearing on the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. Peter Hurley, testified to the subcommittee how Jacob was sickened by his favorite snack because the crackers contained tainted peanut products. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 04: A jar of peanut butter sits on the dias as HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt speaks with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., before the start of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on food safety on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007. The jar of peanut butter, which belongs to one of Sen. Burr's committee staff members, was recalled due to the possibility of salmonella contamination. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
Glen Martin, left, and John Dyke, connect an eight-row lister to a tractor before preparing a 30-acre peanut field on Martin & Sons Farm Monday, April 6, 2009, near Brownfield, Texas. Peanuts make up about 10% of the farm's 4,500 acres. The battered peanut industry is involved in a lobbying and public relations campaign in Washington, a delicate strategy to help the industry rebound after the salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corp. of America. (AP photo/Geoffrey McAllister)
Glen Martin, left, and John Dyke, connect an eight-row lister to a tractor before preparing a 30-acre peanut field on Martin & Sons Farm Monday, April 6, 2009, near Brownfield, Texas. Peanuts make up about 10% of the farm's 4,500 acres. The battered peanut industry is involved in a lobbying and public relations campaign in Washington, a delicate strategy to help the industry rebound after the salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corp. of America. (AP Photo/Geoffrey McAllister)
The Peanut Corp. of America plant is seen on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, in Blakely, Ga. The plant that may be linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak. Peanut Corp. of America voluntarily recalled peanut butter produced at the plant, pending the outcome of an investigation. (AP Photo/Elliott Minor)
FILE - In this Thursday, March 12, 2009 file photo, Peanut Corporation of America's president Stewart Parnell, arrives at United States Federal Court in Lynchburg, Va. The nation's first federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly outbreak of food-borne illness is presenting jurors with a disconcerting fact: America's food safety largely depends on the honor system. Witnesses say Parnell and other Peanut Corporation of America workers knowingly shipped salmonella tainted nuts with faked data showing they were clean. Their defense, Salmonella tests aren't even required by law. (AP Photo/Don Petersen, File)
File-This Nov. 27, 2012 file photo shows the Sunland Inc. peanut butter and nut processing plant in eastern New Mexico, near Portales. Nearly a million jars of peanut butter are being dumped at a New Mexico landfill to expedite the sale of Sunland Inc. the bankrupt peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall. (AP Photo/Jeri Clausing)
Three-year-old Jacob Hurley smiles and waves at the urging of congressmen at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations during a hearing on the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. His father, Peter Hurley, testified to the subcommittee how Jacob was sickened by his favorite snack, Austin Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter, because the crackers contained tainted peanut products from Peanut Corporation of America. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
From left, Jeffrey Almer, Lou Tousignant, and Peter K. Hurley, are sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, prior to testifying before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing to examine the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America. Almer's mother died after eating tainted peanut butter, as did Tousignant's father, a veteran of combat in Korea. Hurley's son was sickened from tainted peanut butter crackers but has recovered. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., left, watches as Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., right, holds up a container of food items that were recalled due to the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Dr. Stephen Sundlof, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing was on the national outbreak salmonella through peanut processing plants.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 04: U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) (2nd-R) speaks about salmonella poisoning while flanked by Gabrielle Meunier (L), whose son was sickened by salmonella tainted peanut butter, Jeff Almer (R), whose mother died of salmonella poisoning in peanut butter, and Caroline Smith DeWaal (2nd-L), from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, during a news conference on Capitol Hill February 4, 2009 in Washington, DC. Rep. DeLauro is introducing food safety reform legislation which would modernize food safety laws and restructure food safety efforts by splitting the Food and Drug Administration into two separate agencies. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

By RAY HENRY

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia food processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak shipped thousands of pounds of peanut products after learning its products were contaminated and cheated on testing, a former plant manager testified Monday.

Samuel Lightsey is a key government witness against his former boss, Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others.

He described documents to jurors that show Peanut Corporation shipped peanuts to companies in Missouri, Illinois and other points after receiving laboratory warnings that product samples had tested positive for salmonella. In other instances, the company cheated on safety testing by switching samples, Lightsey said.

In one instance, company records from September 2007 show the firm requested testing on a sample of peanut paste made for Kellogg's before plant workers actually made the paste. Lightsey said company workers had pulled a sample from an earlier batch. Prosecutor Patrick Hearn asked whether the company could have known whether those products were safe.

"They would have not known unless they had additional samples pulled," Lightsey said.

Manager Makes Second Shocking Confession

The 2008-09 salmonella outbreak caused one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. Food safety investigators found more than 700 people across the country were infected and nine people died - three in Minnesota, two in Ohio, two in Virginia, one in Idaho and one in North Carolina.

Lightsey examined photographs showing evidence of water leaks and described sanitation problems inside the plant. Salmonella can be spread when outside water carrying contaminants seeps into a food processing facility. The photographs showed what Lightsey described as mold and mildew, water stains under a vent in a packaging room and condensation around plant fans. Lightsey said workers kept a pellet gun inside the facility so they could shoot birds that got inside.

"There was multiple areas in the plant that were leaking," said Lightsey, who explained workers would cover food products with plastic to keep them dry.

Prosecutors accuse Parnell and his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, of shipping contaminated peanut products used in foods including peanut butter crackers, ice cream and candied apples. They also say the brothers covered up tests that confirmed the presence of salmonella in their shipments. Stewart Parnell and the Georgia plant's quality assurance manager, Mary Wilkerson, are also charged with obstructing justice.

Defense attorneys have not yet started questioning Lightsey, who pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts in May and agreed to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence. Stewart Parnell's attorneys have said he has been blamed for mistakes made by his employees.

More from AOL
FBI opens investigation into St. Louis shooting
Delivery company allegedly leaves package on roof
Police show images of child thrown to rail tracks
'Baby Boards' deemed illegal

Read Full Story

People are Reading