Peanut Corp. of America executives have taken the Fifth Amendment in the peanut butter recall scandal.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
When asked to testify Wednesday before the House committee hearing on the salmonella peanut butter contamination, Peanut Corporation officials followed legal advice to avoid possible self-incrimination and stayed home. Specifically, Stewart Parnell, president of the Peanut Corporation of America, and plant manager Sammy Lightsey are under investigation about the notification they received last fall by a private lab that their products tested positive for salmonella.
- Edward J. Markey, D-Mass: “Peanut butter goes well with jelly, but not with salmonella. We learned once again, with this recall, that mandatory recall authority is required.”
- Diana DeGette, D-Colo.: “How many sick kids does it take for us to finally act?”
- Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.: “What I really find amazing is that it was known by the PCA that their product was tainted with potentially life-threatening salmonella and yet was released into the food supply anyway.”
A company email dated 9/29/08 from plant manager Sammy Lightsey reveals:
We received final lab results . . . and we have a positive for salmonella. . . . We produced 441 cases of this lot and we produced meal out of the same lot . . . some of this product has been shipped.
Yet, the FDA didn’t start inspecting the plant until January 9, 2009, and the voluntary peanut butter recall did not occur until January 10, 2009!
Plant manager Lightsey was willing to come to the hearing, but Parnell would not appear. A subpoena has been issued.