This may seem like old news because the investigation into the salmonella outbreak has been ongoing for several months, but the today’s news highlights something very troubling as more details are made available.
We need to remember the name of Stewart Parnell, the owner of Peanut Corp. of America. The House of Representatives has subpoenaed Parnell to appear before them and explain why he ordered his workers to ship tainted peanut products, even after independent laboratories had tested his peanut stock and found it to contain salmonella bacteria. According to company emails obtained by a House committee, Parnell ordered the shipments to continue because he was worried about lost sales. From The Associated Press:
The owner of a peanut company urged his workers to ship tainted products after receiving test results identifying salmonella, according to internal company e-mails disclosed Wednesday by a House committee.
The company e-mails obtained by the House panel showed that Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell ordered the shipments tainted with the bacteria because he was worried about lost sales.
Parnell was ordered by subpoena to appear before Congress on Wednesday to discuss the outbreak that has led to 600 illnesses, eight deaths and one of the largest recalls in history, more than 1,800 products pulled. His Georgia plant is blamed for the outbreak.
I have never been in charge of a company like that, so I am sure I have no idea the kind of pressure Parnell must have been feeling. I also can not imagine how anyone could order the shipment of products known to contain salmonella or any other bacteria that can cause such pain and death. Stewart Parnell was concerned, I am sure, about the future of his business and his employees, but it sounds like that concern got out of hand. With the Georgia plant shut down, maybe permanently, his entire business is now in jeopardy. I wonder if he thinks it was worth it?