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Tennessee Group Calls for Stiffer FDA Penalties

February 25, 2009

Nashville, TN – Those concerned with the national salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanut products say it shows that the national food safety watchdog has no teeth. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has issued an updated report on the outbreak, which raises the number of Tennesseans sickened to fourteen, and the Tennessee Association for Justice says the situation underscores the need to update America's food safety system, especially to increase fines for safety violations.

The wave of salmonella-caused illness has been traced to a Georgia peanut paste factory, the Peanut Corporation of America, but the FDA can only fine the company one thousand dollars and ask for twelve months' jail time for those who might be convicted of knowingly sending out contaminated shipments. Daniel Clayton, president of the Tennessee Association for Justice, says the FDA hasn't increased its fines for food safety violations for more than 70 years, since 1938.

"We definitely need to take a look at revamping our food safety laws. Right now, it's more of a slap on the wrist from the federal government."

Clayton says the Peanut Corporation of America is not the only company that may be liable in the salmonella-caused deaths and illnesses; distributors have responsibilities too, he adds.

"You have the other businesses, like Kellogg and King Nut: Did they have reason to believe that there was something wrong with this product and to pull their product off the market quickly?"

The CDC report is at

Dan Gordon, Public News Service - TN