A peanut processing plant in Texas run by the Peanut Corp. of America, which is being investigated for a national salmonella outbreak, operated for years uninspected and unlicensed by Texas health officials.
The Peanut Corp. of America plant in Plainview was never inspected until after the company fell under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.
Once inspectors learned about the Texas plant, they found no sign of salmonella there. This finding raises questions; how it could have operated unlicensed for nearly four years and about the adequacy of government efforts to keep the nation’s food supply safe. Texas is among states where the FDA relies on state inspectors to oversee food safety.
The salmonella outbreak was traced to the company’s sister plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and internal records of more than a dozen positive tests for salmonella.
The outbreak so far has resulted in more than 500 reported illnesses, led to an expansive recall and caused as many as eight deaths. The government is working on a criminal investigation in the case.
The Texas plant was not licensed with health officials and had never been inspected since it opened in March 2005. Texas requires food manufacturers to be licensed every two years and routinely inspected.
FDA inspectors went through the Texas plant two weeks ago after the state inspection and did not find salmonella or other problems.
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