Apparently it takes killing people to convict a CEO. Oh, wait, scratch that. In this (singular) case, after a giant dose of what can only be called morbid greed™, the CEO of Peanut Corporation of America if going to prison.
Stewart Parnell, along with his brother Michael and their quality control manager, Mary Wilkerson, were before a jury for causing a massive outbreak of salmonella in 2009. Reportedly, 714 people fell ill and nine people died, but it was probably much bigger. The jury convicted them of 71 counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and knowingly distributing tainted food. Stewart Parnell, who is 61, will get 28 years in prison. His brother will get 20 and Wilkerson, five years.
According to investigators, the salmonella was caused by the fact that the company refused to spend money on the most basic health precautions.
How did this happen? In short: greed, shoddy management, and lack of oversight. When federal regulators finally investigated the source of the salmonella outbreak, they discovered an infestation of roaches and mice. Inspectors also found a leaking roof, resulting in standing water puddles, and the presence of bird droppings.
Another company facility in Plainview, Texas had never been licensed for food processing and had never been inspected until news of the salmonella outbreak had come out. In fact, the Dallas Morning News reported that Texas health officials hadn’t even known the processing plant existed. An inspection of the Plainview facility revealed appalling sanitary conditions. According to the report, inspectors discovered “dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers” in the building. Not surprisingly, product samples tested positive for salmonella.
Source: Ring of Fire Radio
None of this should surprise anyone. While Republicans might sell this as a failure of the government for not catching the problem before the tainted peanut butter hit the shelves, Congress is refusing to fund the very agency that is supposed to inspect processing plants. This is just another case of the government being broken because Republicans broke it. It also shows that unbridled greed can literally be toxic.
Featured image via Wikimedia.