U.S. indicts peanut processors in 2009 salmonella outbreak
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury has indicted former officials of Peanut Corp of America in connection with a 2009 outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanut products, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
The charges filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia include fraud, conspiracy and the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce, the department said.
Peanut products contaminated with salmonella sickened at least 600 people across the United States and Canada in 2009 and forced one of the biggest recalls in U.S. history.
Peanut Corp of America filed for liquidation after the outbreak and is no longer in business.
Internal company messages in 2009 showed owner Stewart Parnell complaining about lost profits while the food poisoning was investigated. He later refused to testify after U.S. lawmakers subpoenaed him to appear at a hearing.
Parnell, 58, was among those charged, including with obstruction of justice.
The Justice Department said he and three other company officials participated in a scheme to ship salmonella-contaminated peanuts and peanut products, misleading customers.
Neither Parnell nor his lawyer could immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by David Ingram and Diane Bartz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Bernadette Baum)
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