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Sticking it to the peanut gallery with greed

Earlier this year, eating a PB and J sandwich was nearly as risky as jumping out of a plane, thanks to some prime examples of negligence on the part of the Peanut Corporation of America.

Wait, forget negligence — how about just plain greed?

Even after peanuts in a Blakely, Ga. plant tested positive for salmonella, the president of the Peanut Corp. still decided to “turn them loose.”

Stewart Parnell, the corporation’s president, knowingly sent tainted products to be distributed, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Salmonella is potentially life-threatening, especially to children and the elderly. More than 1,900 tainted peanut products were sent to schools and nursing homes around the U.S., as well as to the general public.

More than 550 people became ill from these peanuts. Nine died.

I realize that times are tough for the economy, but knowingly endangering customers to avoid losing some money on a bad batch?

How is it possible that human lives are worth less than peanuts?

It seems that, to Parnell, the safety of the consumers was not worth the money it would cost the company to test for salmonella.

Ironically, the company is now filing for bankruptcy.

Parnell pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights at a congressional hearing, despite testimony from victims’ family members. Parnell also wisely declined to taste-test a sample of his contaminated peanuts.

Apparently, he values his own health more than that of his company.

While the decisions of Peanut Corp. to blatantly disregard the salmonella tests are clearly at fault in this case, the company is not the only actor in this food-safety case.

In the most powerful nation on Earth, should people be afraid that their food might kill them?

It’s time to re-evaluate the government’s influence over the companies that feed this country.

When someone like Parnell was able to serve on an Agricultural Department advisory board that helps set standards for peanut quality, you know you have a problem.

The FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture need to be reregulated to make sure that they are adequately monitoring the food Americans eat. Currently, they seem to be floundering with inconsistent inspections, which vary according to industry.

According to The Los Angeles Times, prior to a post- outbreak inspection in January, the last time the Blakely plant was inspected by the FDA was in 2001. This is despite the more than 12 positive tests for salmonella between 2007 and 2008, reported by The Herald Tribune.

No wonder foreign countries are wary of importing American food.

Children should be able to eat peanut butter at their schools without ending up in the hospital.

The Congressional committee hearing Parnell’s case seems to agree, as does President Barack Obama, who said he wants to review the FDA, according to The Los Angeles Times.

For a country whose beef industry was hit with E. coli and mad cow disease not so long ago, reforms cannot come quickly enough.

Just be careful of snacking on peanuts while waiting for things to change.

Indra may just be having Nutella sandwiches for a while. Send her your recommendations for non-peanutty spreads at

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