Salmonella Peanut CEO won't eat his own peanuts, cites Fifth Amendment

Doran sez, "In Congressional hearings into Salmonella found in peanuts, Stewart Parnell, owner of Peanut Corp. of America, declined a request by Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon to eat some of his company's own product. He did so by citing his fifth-amendment protections. Given what's come out during the hearing, it's no wonder. From the story":

Charles Deibel, president of Deibel Laboratories Inc., said his company was among those that tested Peanut Corp. products and notified the Georgia plant that salmonella was found. Peanut Corp. sold the products anyway, according to an FDA inspection report...

The House panel released e-mails obtained by its investigators showing Parnell ordered products identified with salmonella shipped and quoting his complaints that tests discovering the contaminated food were “costing us huge $$$$$$.”

Owner Stewart Parnell refused to testify at hearing; 9 have now died (Thanks, Doran!)

78

  1. The House panel released e-mails obtained by its investigators showing Parnell ordered products identified with salmonella shipped and quoting his complaints that tests discovering the contaminated food were “costing us huge $$$$$$.”

    Turns out that tort damages from poisoning your customers is more expensive.

    Management fail.

  2. This is why we need to have Judge Judy involved in cases like this:

    “Eat the peanut butter.”
    “Your honor, as a result of the rights afforded me by the Constitution, I respectfully decline to…”
    “Guilty. Next case.”

    It would have given him crazy support if he’d gotten out a spoon. Sure, he’s want to be rushed to the ER immediately following for a stomach pump, but that would be off camera. I suppose there are those involved in this case that would pay extra to watch that too…

  3. Dude, it’s a basic rule, right up there with “If someone asks if you’re a God, you say ‘YES’!”.

    If you’re the witness at a Congressional hearing, and they ask you to eat something, you EAT IT!

  4. I don’t see why he didn’t just feed it to that thing growing out of his shoulder.

    “Quaaaiiiid…! Om nom nom nom….”

  5. be happy, peanut-eating Amerikanskis! In Canada still not inquiry into listeria deaths! Da! Is true comrade!

  6. and now it will cost them more when people stop eating the whole line of products they make. anybody has a list?

    and he should have eaten it…

  7. Joke all you want, I had over $1,000 in vet bills in the last 6 months. I’m just waiting to find out who to sue.

  8. Right on Strophe. I was hoping someone would comment on that sweet lookin’ dude behind him.

    His hair was perfect……

  9. #16, MDH, I don’t think any of us are implying that 9 actual deaths over this guy’s f*%#up is funny. I know I’m thrilled that he put it in writing making it easier for you to sue him directly in the end.

    We’re mocking him and his arrogance to appear in front of Congress and just claim the Fifth more than anything else when he’s obviously guilty as hell. Well, that and the thing growing out of his shoulder.

    <-- Obviously not allowed on his jury.

  10. Whew man and I was having a such a bad day (wrt 2 da ‘tubes). Until now. I mean cmon, “Peanut CEO won’t eat his own peanuts.” That kind of headline opportunity doesn’t come everyday.

    Agreeing with Sam Glover here, highly anticipating the lolroll on this one. That image @8 alone is off the wall unbelievably hilarious already.

  11. Now if he’d done this in China, he’d be weighing up the health risks of eating one of his peanuts compared to the health risks of being executed.

  12. “A peanut is neither a pea, nor a nut…..

    Oh wait, it is a nut.”

    Oh yeah, and title should read “Salmonella” not “Samonella” (I’m bored).

  13. TheHoundofLove: Maybe it’s the name of the company. You know, “Samonella Peanut Inc.” Named after its founder, Sam Onella.

  14. C’mon. Go easy on the poor fella’.

    I mean, sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes, well…you don’t.

  15. I always thought the fifth amendment only meant that the government couldn’t force evidence OUT of your mouth.

  16. @ Bob Dole – I think you may be right. I was led to believe that the company was named after the founder’s (great) uncle, Sal Monella.

    My b.

  17. Dante could devise a suitable punishment for Parnell. It would not be pretty.

    Until then, serious suggestion: buy a jar of peanut butter. Here is a list of brands unaffected by the recall, from companies not supplied by Parnell:

    http://www.peanutsusa.com/USA/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.page&pid=262#Brands_NOT_Affected_by_FDA_Recall

    Sales of peanut butter in the U.S. are down almost 25%. I don’t like the idea of people being laid off or losing their jobs because of this one supplier’s criminality.

  18. This is ridiculous—there’s no presumption of guilt here and even if he was guilty he’s entitled to 5th amendment protection and even if he wasn’t he should still refuse on the grounds that the request is total grandstanding and proves nothing.

    A jar wrapped in crime-scene tape? C’mon.

  19. He didn’t even have the nuts to try his own product…but apparently he had enough to join the hair club for men. They must be doing good business in Georgia and DC these days.

    I can haz harepeace?

    (His hair is obviously manufactured in a facility/on equipment that also processes peanuts, soy or other tree nuts)

  20. Grasp stick firmly with both hands, strike repeatedly about the face and neck. Continue until desired results are achieved.

  21. Actually, it’s the eighth amendment, the Cruel and Unusual Punishment he should be citing. Actually, forget citing amendments, he should be going around to everyone injured, begging their forgiveness and liquidating his assets so he could pay damages is what he should be doing. Manslaughter charges are completely appropriate. I sorta do wish we extradited these guys to China…

  22. Someone please fill a pie tin with his peanut butter and slap him the face with it (on camera) – or make that part of the sentence he should receive

  23. @ Nooks #41:

    This is ridiculous—there’s no presumption of guilt here and even if he was guilty he’s entitled to 5th amendment protection and even if he wasn’t he should still refuse on the grounds that the request is total grandstanding and proves nothing.

    It proves that this man has zero confidence in the safety of a product he sold to children.

  24. Sure, this particular guy’s a real bastard.

    However, this is a symptom of our system of global-scale, mass-produced convenience foods. Getting rid of this one guy will do nothing to prevent this from happening again, and again, and again.

  25. Why is this idiot even present at congress? Someone mentioned grandstanding [on behalf of the committee, not surprising] which is about as useful as the proverbial tits on a boar. Why aren’t they fast-tracking a criminal trial for this bunghole? He knowingly (by his own words) broke the law and did what he knew was wrong.
    I am so tired of bullshit circuses like this. I have reached the idiot threshold; let’s have some results for a change.

  26. Everyone is missing the point. As Olberman noted, this is “Deregulation-Gate”.

    This is what happens when you deregulate the food industry and defund inspections.

    Just as the financial boondoggle is the result of free market fundamentalists removing prudent regulation of markets and market-makers.

    Raging at the capitalists is not going to solve anything, nor is parading them before committees.

    Even Adam Smith understood that, to function in the public interest, markets and firms need rational regulation.

    The anger of the public should be directed at Republicans in Congress who gutted consumer protections and government oversight.

  27. As the blog on which I think I first found Professors Duane’s lecture on “Eight Reasons Why Not Even Innocent People Should Never Talk To the Police” (and if you weren’t the blog, you should have been), I am appalled at the facile posts of people who just want to string this guy up after he gets his “fair trial.”

    Don’t you people ever read this blog about the mindlessness of government intervention on security issues? The Congressional pillory exhibited today is of no different order nor magnitude.

    Let the courts — which are supposed to protect your rights as well — sort this out. If FDA can prove its case, let them rot in jail (and let all of the PCA workers lose their jobs); if FDA & CDC can’t (“Can you say, ‘the government always gets it right’?”), then they go.

    In any event, your food isn’t going to be any safe because the “solutions” proposed do not address the science of how food gets contaminated. By the way, the food is even safer now than it every has been. The reporting of illnesses is just better. That’s a good thing, but nobody should be in a state of panic.

    1. DavidLDurkin,

      Our readers know how to Google. You’re a lobbyist for “The nation’s premier FDA, USDA, and health care law firm, serving clients before federal agencies, courts, and Congress.”

  28. @56 Rationalist

    So many attribution errors… where to begin…

    Just as the financial boondoggle is the result of free market fundamentalists removing prudent regulation of markets and market-makers.

    Except that this has never been the case, particularly during the last Bush administration. Special privileges and protections for big business to rape and pillage is not “free market fundamentalism”, it’s corporatism. As for the banking calamity specifically, Ekelund and Thornton explain that it’s the result of decades of bad monetary policy combined with the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 creating a moral hazard of empowering bankers to create ostensibly endless credit and push it onto customers.

    Everyone is missing the point. As Olberman noted, this is “Deregulation-Gate”. This is what happens when you deregulate the food industry and defund inspections.

    This is as ridiculous of a claim as Michael Crichton novels (interesting thought experiments they may be) where the default failure mode of every complex system is to Kill Everyone.

    More honestly, this is what happens when one person is a jackass and chooses to harm people for money. The fact that he did it with a peanut factory rather than a gun for mugging isn’t very salient. He’s been caught and will stand trial within the legal system.

    p.s. Keith Olberman is just the mirror isomer of Bill O’Reilly. They’re both professional blowhards in the vein of Lewis Prothero.

  29. I refuse to believe that in this age of molecular biology we don’t have cheap elisa’s or similar technology available to spot this stuff.

    It’s of course childish for me and others to wish him strung up. But hopefully he’ll go to prison. And have to eat the food. Quite possibly handled by inmates who know why he’s there. And even if they’ll resist the temptation to give him a taste of his own medicine, he’ll have to wonder about it everytime he takes a bite…

  30. I just want to point out that although many are pointing to China as an example of justice, out of the 22 companies, quite a few government departments, and large number of people involved in the melamine scandal, only 12 people were convicted and sentenced in the show trial. This means not even one person from every company was prosecuted. Nobody from the government was prosecuted (although they knew about it for quite some time, including at the national level). There were over 300,000 babies and children sickened. I say that justice was far from served.

  31. Of course the man won’t eat peanuts, it’s such a plebeian food, it’s beneath him. He’s too used to buying and eating his Beluga Caviar and White Truffles to even notice the blood and suffering of the low and middle classes that he is personally responsible for.
    It’s high time we started handing out real punishments to these monsters instead of just slapping their wrists. But unfortunately this is America where given enough money and campaign contributions monsters like this get away with murder, literally and figuratively, standard practice. They apparently have no fear of reprisals for their actions and hide behind their corporate clout and while following the corporate culture of profit before people. So really how can we feel safe in this world as these corporations get bigger and bigger while our power as individuals gets smaller and smaller.

  32. @59 Zuzu:

    Everyone is missing the point. As Olberman noted, this is “Deregulation-Gate”. This is what happens when you deregulate the food industry and defund inspections.

    This is as ridiculous as… More honestly, this is what happens when one person is a jackass and chooses to harm people for money.

    That’s absurd. There will always be managers who don’t want to forward a bad test result to their superiors, or CEOs that are more concerned with this year’s profit margin than some hypothetical possibility in the future. We can’t rely on the free market to curb this kind of behavior, because, as we’ve seen in numerous food scandals, that doesn’t work. And when we’re dealing in such a globalized food economy, where one company can be making products that go into millions of separate food items, the possibility of harm is tremendous.

    There has been a huge push, from the government and I assume interested lobbyists, for fewer inspections and inspectors, and even curbing the ability of companies to certify their own products as safe on their own. How does that help us? The idea that they just “won’t sell products that are harmful because it will eventually hurt their bottom line” has been quite clearly shown to be patently false.

  33. zuzu@59: Special privileges and protections for big business to rape and pillage is not “free market fundamentalism”, it’s corporatism.

    woah. Wait a sec. You’re making a distinction between economic fundamentalism and… corporatism???

    When we open a debate about torture, the first thing the really serious knuckleheads is try to assert that waterboarding doesn’t deserve the label “torture”.

    I really don’t care what you call it: laissez fair capitalism, free market capitalism, pure profit corporatism, Ayn Randyism, or leprachaunism, it’s all the same gawdamn thing.

    Could Ayn Rand please fucking die already???

    What?

    Oh.

    Alright, could people stop worshipping the corpse of Ayn Rand already???

  34. @ David L Durkin #58:

    …Let the courts — which are supposed to protect your rights as well — sort this out. If FDA can prove its case, let them rot in jail (and let all of the PCA workers lose their jobs); if FDA & CDC can’t (“Can you say, ‘the government always gets it right’?”), then they go.

    The courts can only make rulings based on existing law, it’s up to congress to decide if those laws are adequate to protect the public. In order to do that they’ll need to hold hearings like this one, and maybe restore some funding to the FDA & CDC.

    But then as a lobbyist for the industry I’m sure you realize that.

  35. @ Brainspore #51:

    I’d eat it, knowing the chances the jar was contaminated were pretty low.

    But it’s entirely possible that this guy has his reasons for not wanting to acquiesce to the demands of a grandstanding congressman to provide an unflattering photo for the papers, while at the same time not refusing outright (which could have an effect on future lawsuits).

    Hence, take the fifth.

  36. @ Nooks #69:

    If the congressional hearing was all about grandstanding and public image then this guy did himself and his industry a huge disservice by presenting the image of a CEO who won’t eat his own product. From a public relations perspective, refusing to eat the peanut butter made him look bad. From a criminal perspective, refusing to eat the peanut butter made him look bad (whether or not that refusal can be used as evidence in court).

    The only rationale left for refusing to eat the peanut butter (save for a peanut allergy) is that he doesn’t trust the safety of his own product.

    Maybe this is a “grandstanding” way for a congressman to make his point, but he made it very well.

  37. @30, glad I read all the comments instead of daring to think I would be the first one to reference that (brilliant) sketch.

    I plead the FIF! F-I-F FIIIIF!

  38. The only solution, as I see it, is less regulation. Perhaps, too, we could privatize what remains of the FDA and sell each office off to whichever section of industry they were supposed to oversee. While we’re at it, we can disband the SEC, which was only functioning as a recruiting center for Wall Street anyway, and the EPA, because the Earth can damn well take care of itself.

Comments are closed.