U.S. Peanut Company in Criminal Investigation

ATLANTA, Georgia – The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that a criminal investigation has begun in Georgia plant linked to an outbreak of salmonella.

Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told reporters that the agency’s office of criminal investigation work through the Department of Justice to prepare a case and prosecute if necessary.

More than 500 cases of salmonella in 43 states and Canada have been linked to products (peanut butter and peanut paste, ground roasted peanuts) from the Corporation of America’s peanut Blakely, Georgia, plant since September. At least eight people are believed to have died from the outbreak.

Earlier in the day, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin asked Gov. Sonny Perdue to determine whether the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has jurisdiction to conduct a criminal probe of ACC.

The company has facilities in more than one state, so there are doubts that it can investigate, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said Friday. The company is headquartered in Virginia, but the plants in Texas and Georgia.

APC announced the extension of the withdrawal of peanut butter and peanut paste produced from its plant in Georgia last week. ACC does not supply directly to supermarkets, so brand peanut butter is not expected to be affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Instead, ACC sells bulk peanut paste. The peanut butter is sold in packages ranging in size from five to 1700 pounds. Peanut paste is used in the manufacture of pastries, cakes, biscuits, cookies and ice cream, the FDA said.

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