The former owner of Peanut Corporation of America was sentenced to 28 years in prison today for his role in a salmonella outbreak blamed for killing nine people and sickening at least 714 more, USA Today reports.
Last September, 61-year-old Stewart Parnell was convicted of more than 70 criminal charges, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice, for knowingly selling salmonella-tainted peanut butter and faking lab results designed to screen for the bacteria. From The Washington Post:
Court documents revealed that Parnell approved shipments despite containers that were partially “covered in dust and rat crap.” In one e-mail, after being informed that a customer’s shipment might be delayed because the results of a salmonella test were not yet available, Parnell wrote, ‘S—-, just ship it. I can’t afford to loose [sic] another customer.”
As the salmonella outbreak spread, inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration descended on the Georgia plant and documented a litany of unsanitary conditions, including mold, roaches, dirty equipment, holes big enough to allow rodents inside and a failure to separate raw and cooked products.
Food safety lawyer William Marler, who represented many of the victims, acknowledged that the sentence was the longest ever in a food poisoning case, but said, “I think the fact that he was prosecuted at all is a victory for consumers.”
[Image via AP Images]