FDA agent: Georgia peanut plant linked to fatalities took 5 days to disclose salmonella tests

MarketsAssociated Press

A federal investigator says officials at a Georgia peanut plant took five days to disclose any of their products had tested positive for salmonella as authorities rushed to find the source of a deadly national outbreak.

Former Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell and two others are on trial in U.S. District Court, charged with shipping contaminated peanuts and covering up positive salmonella tests. Nine Americans died and 714 got sick in the outbreak five years ago.

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Food and Drug Administration investigator Bob Neligan testified Thursday that agents asked company officers daily about salmonella tests while inspecting the plant in January 2009. He said a manager finally disclosed three positive tests on the fifth day.

Investigators later found records confirming 12 positive salmonella tests in a two-year period.