A former peanut executive was sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly selling salmonella-tainted peanuts. The resulting outbreak made over 700 people sick and resulted in 9 deaths. This is one of the harshest sentences ever as a result of a food-borne illness. As a product liability attorney, this shows just how seriously food safety needs to be taken in order to ensure the safety of the public. This sentence sends a message loud and clear that such willful violations of the law will not be tolerated.
At issue in this particular case were emails and correspondence that showed this executive willfully ignored food safety tests. When a batch of peanuts tested positive for salmonella, they would often retest to try to get a different result. And in one case, with results from a particular batch not yet back, the executive told the distributor, “Just ship it.” Because of these exchanges and other evidence, he and two others were convicted of fraud, obstruction of justice and selling adulterated food.
Criminal charges from this type of outbreak are rare, but it’s clear that this company went out of their way to flagrantly ignore safety guidelines for consumers. While the criminal justice system works to make sure he pays for his crimes against society, the civil justice system will work to make sure that the victims of this conduct are properly compensated.
When a consumer buys food, they have a reasonable expectation of safety. The USDA and other government organizations routinely test food for problems and routinely check facilities to make sure they are properly following safety guidelines. When companies choose to ignore these rules, it puts the public at risk for serious injury and death. Salmonella can be deadly to elderly people, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. These vulnerable people deserve to be protected from these problems.
At Johnson Law, we can work to hold businesses accountable when they injure customers. If you have been made ill from eating food or suffered injury from another product, contact a product liability attorney at Johnson Law today for a free consultation.