The 2008-2009 salmonella outbreak prompted one of the biggest food recalls in this country’s history. 714 people were sickened and 9 people died as a result of tainted food. This month, federal prosecutors are seeking criminal penalties against the corporate management of a peanut company that faked lab results and failed to recall products they knew were contaminated with salmonella.
Peanut Corp. of America supplied peanut paste to companies like Kellogg’s to be used in peanut butter crackers etc., but often had trouble meeting demand. So rather than wait two days for salmonella and other contaminant testing, the company would ship the peanut paste on the same day it was made and use old lab results to attach to the product. Just as bad if not worse, the company failed to recall their product if testing revealed it was tainted.
As evidenced by this case, the effects of food poisoning can go way beyond diarrhea and general malaise. It can cause serious injuries and even death. Individuals and corporations who recklessly expose the consuming public to such injuries should be held accountable for compensatory damages and punitive damages. And, when appropriate, they should face criminal penalties.