Tag Archives salmonella

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the legality of three-month prison sentences handed down to former Quality Egg, LLC executives Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter, former officials of the company deemed responsible for a 2010 Salmonella outbreak traced to its Iowa egg farms. United States v. Quality Egg, LLC, No. 15-1890 (8th Cir., order entered July 6, 2016). Convicted of misdemeanor violations of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), the DeCosters argued their sentences were unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause and the Eighth Amendment because incarceration for their offenses is either altogether inappropriate or disproportionate to the crimes. Upon a de novo review of the case, the appeals court confirmed that “the DeCosters are liable for negligently failing to prevent the salmonella outbreak.” Further, the men’s sentences did not violate the Due Process Clause because the sentences were “relatively short” and the “convictions…

A Georgia federal court has reportedly ruled that four former executives of Peanut Corp. will not be forced to pay restitution to the victims of a Salmonella outbreak linked to nine deaths and 714 illnesses. The executives—Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Samuel Lightsey and Daniel Kilgore—are each serving federal prison terms for knowingly shipping Salmonella-tainted peanut butter and faking related lab-test results. The court reportedly found that the loss estimates provided by the prosecutors were invalid because they included unrecoverable costs, including attorney’s fees. Further, the victims received more than $12 million from Peanut Corp.’s insurer, and the punitive factor of restitution would be reduced because requiring payment “would ultimately be for naught or close-to-naught,” as the executives received long prison sentences. See Associated Press, April 7, 2016.   Issue 599

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized standards that seek to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. Part of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS’) effort to revamp the poultry inspection system, the new rules require routine sampling throughout the year rather than infrequent sampling on consecutive days, and authorize the agency to publicize facility results online. “Over the past seven years, USDA has put in place tighter and more strategic food safety measures than ever before for meat and poultry products. We have made strides in modernizing every aspect of food safety inspection, from company record keeping, to labeling requirements, to the way we perform testing in our labs,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a February 4, 2016, news release. “These new standards, in combination with greater transparency about poultry companies’ food safety…

A South Carolina federal court has ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was not negligent in issuing a tomato recall during a 2008 outbreak of Salmonella, dismissing a tomato farm's claim of $15 million in damages. Seaside Farm Inc. v. U.S., No. 11-1199 (D.S.C., order entered December 16, 2015). The farm had argued that FDA should have been more specific in its recall, while FDA argued it never issued an official recall, only warnings about tomatoes. The court had previously dismissed allegations of defamation and takings against the government.   Issue 588

A German court has reportedly ordered the city of Hamburg to compensate a Spanish vegetable grower falsely linked to a 2011 E. coli outbreak that sickened more than 4,000 people in 16 countries. Vegetable cooperative Frunet asserted that it suffered €2.3 million in damages as a result of its incorrect identification as the source of the outbreak, which was later traced to fenugreek sprouts. The amount of the award has not been confirmed. See Think Spain, October 25, 2015. Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision that the government does not owe tomato growers compensation after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly attributed a 2008 Salmonella outbreak to red tomatoes, then later traced it to jalapeno and serrano peppers. DiMare Fresh, Inc. v. U.S., No. 15-5006 (Fed. Cir., order entered October 28, 2015). “The problem with the Tomato Producers’ contention…

A California federal court has granted Foster Farms’ request for declaratory judgment finding that Lloyd’s of London must cover $14 million in costs related to a Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms’ chicken processing facilities. Foster Poultry Farms Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, No. 14-0446 (E.D. Cal., order entered October 9, 2015). Foster Farms’ policy with the insurer included coverage for “Accidental Contamination,” requiring the company to show (i) “an error in the production of its chicken product” and (ii) that consumption of the product “‘would ‘lead to’ bodily injury.” Lloyd’s challenged Foster Farms’ showing of the latter requirement, arguing the destroyed products were not actually contaminated with Salmonella. The court concluded the company had shown the products were contaminated because at the time the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service issued its Notice of Suspension, Foster Farms’ products had tested positive for Salmonella for…

One week after the sentencing of three Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) executives, two managers have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a Salmonella outbreak linked to nine deaths and hundreds of illnesses. Samuel Lightsey and Daniel Kilgore, former operations managers at PCA’s Blakely, Georgia, plant, were sentenced to three years and six years respectively. “By making sure that the individuals involved in the corporate fraud at PCA were held accountable, I am confident that the message to other executives is clear,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore. “Because we all know that it is people who make decisions about what goes on behind the corporate curtain, we’ll be looking to hold those individuals personally accountable when they steer their businesses down the path of fraud. Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Lightsey acknowledged their wrongdoing, and today their sentences reflect not only their acceptance of that responsibility, but also the…

Stewart Parnell, former chief executive of Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), has been sentenced to 28 years in prison following a conviction on federal conspiracy and fraud charges for his part in a Salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened more than 700. U.S. v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-0012 (M.D. Ga., Albany Div., order entered September 21, 2015). “Americans should be able to trust that the food we buy for ourselves and our families is safe,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery in a September 21, 2015, press release. “The sentences handed down today to officials associated with the Peanut Corporation of America demonstrate the consequences for those whose criminal actions threaten that trust by introducing contaminated food into the marketplace. Our prosecution is just one more example of the forceful actions that the Department of Justice, with its agency partners, takes against any individual or company who compromises…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have announced an October 19, 2015, public meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss draft U.S. positions for review at the 47th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) slated for November 9-13 in Boston, Mass. Among other things, CCFH is responsible for prioritizing topics related to microbiological risk assessments and drafting basic hygiene provisions applicable to all food. Agenda items for October 19 include proposed draft guidelines for controlling nontyphoidal Salmonella in beef and pork meat and a discussion paper about revising the Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. See Federal Register, August 25, 2015.   Issue 579

“American consumers expect and deserve safe food. Yet, time and again, food producers have cut corners on food safety knowing full well that tainted products cause serious illness or even death,” asserted American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Larry Tawwater in issuing a report condemning industry for allegedly prioritizing profits over people. The report contends that consumer lawsuits have become the most effective “mechanism for deterring negligent behavior and rooting out systemic problems in the food chain” absent adequate food-safety practices by food companies and appropriate monitoring by regulators. Among other things, AAJ calls on Congress to declare multidrug-resistant Salmonella an official adulterant and to enact legislation creating a single food safety agency. AAJ was formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). See AAJ News Release, September 2, 2015.   Issue 577

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