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Food exec gets 28-year sentence for poisoning outbreak

According to the Washington Post, former peanut company owner Stewart Parnell has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds between 2008 and 2009 in the US.

The sentence said the Washington Post story, “marked the most severe punishment ever for a food-related crime.” 

Parnell’s now-bankrupt company, Peanut Corp. of America, found salmonella contamination six times in its peanuts between 2007 and 2008, according to investigators.

The investigators documented a long list of unsanitary conditions at the plant, including mould, cockroaches, dirty food processing equipment, rodent activity, along with the failure to separate raw and cooked products. 

They also unearthed e-mails that showed Parnell hastily approving shipments he knew might be contaminated, according to the Washington Post.

Company supervisor Michael Parnell and Stewart Parnell’s brother also received a prison sentence of 20 years. Another employee, a quality-control manager at the plant, who was convicted of obstruction of justice, received a 5-year sentence.

“We think the sentence itself is extremely high,” said Parnell’s attorney, who also added that, “He’s obviously disappointed, but we knew it was a likelihood something like this could happen.”

Parnell will appeal the verdict, said the Washington Post story.

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