7 Feb 2009

Peanut plant did not wait for outside testing - FDA

2:35 pm on 7 February 2009

US health officials say managers at a peanut plant in Georgia which is at the centre of a salmonella outbreak dispatched products they knew might have been tainted.

Food & Drug Administration officials said on Friday it's clear that the company did not wait for outside testing to confirm the products were safe.

At least 575 people became ill afterwards - more than half of them children. The outbreak may be linked to eight deaths.

So far, more than 1300 products have been withdrawn in one of the biggest food recalls in US history.

The products were not sold at retail, but in industrial-sized cans of peanut butter used by schools and other institutions, and in peanut products used to make snacks, pet treats and other foods.

The plant is owned by Peanut Corp of America.

Under law, a company does not have to notify the FDA agency if it discovers salmonella or other contamination. Twelve instances of salmonella have been found at the plant since 2007.