Grand Jury Indicts Four In Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak

A federal grand jury has indicted four former executives of a peanut butter manufacturer. The indictments are tied to a salmonella outbreak that is blamed for killing nine people.

According to the complaint, owners and executives of the former Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped numerous cases of peanut butter that tested positive for salmonella.

As reported by Food Safety News, the problems began in 2004. The company allegedly shipped at least eight orders to retail outlets before receiving confirmation that they were free of contamination.

In October, a customer contacted Stewart Parnell, owner, and complained that the product they received tested positive for salmonella. The customer was assured that every shipment was tested before leaving their facility.

Parnell reportedly received numerous complaints about products shipped in 2006 that were tested by customers and found to be contaminated. He ensured his customers that the product was tested in his facility and included certificates of analysis.

Documentation included in the complaint alleges that Parnell and other executives knew that the product had been shipped before test results were verified. The complaint further includes documentation that indicates the executives were aware of contamination in some products but shipped them anyway.

In January of 2009, the CDC concluded that peanut butter was a “likely source” of a salmonella outbreak. By April of 2009, over 700 people were sickened and nine people died, allegedly after consuming products distributed by The Peanut Corporation of America.

As reported by, the indictment contains a total of 76 charges including obstruction of justice and introduction of adulterated and mislabeled food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead.

A federal grand jury has indicted four former executives in the peanut butter salmonella outbreak. Those indicted include former owners, Stewart and Michael Parnell, and former plant manager, Samuel Lightsey.