Peanut company in salmonella probe shuts 2nd plant

Food Borne Diseases Posted on

The peanut company at the center of an investigation into a deadly national salmonella outbreak suspended operations at a second processing plant Tuesday.

Peanut Corporation of America said in a statement it was voluntarily suspending operations at its Plainview, Texas, plant while state and federal health officials investigate procedures and food safety records there. The facility is operated by a subsidiary, Plainview Peanut Co.

An Associated Press investigation last week revealed that the Plainview plant, which opened in March 2005, operated uninspected and unlicensed by state health officials until after the company came under investigation last month by the Food and Drug Administration. Once inspectors learned about the Texas site, they found no sign of salmonella there.

Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Peanut Corp. agreed to shut the plant voluntarily as it works with the state agency.

Peanut Corp. closed its plant in Blakely, Ga., last month after federal investigators identified that facility as the source of the salmonella outbreak. The company also operates a small plant under the name Tidewater Blanching in Suffolk, Va.

The Texas closing comes a day after the FBI raided the plant in Georgia, hauling off boxes and other material. Agents executed search warrants at both the plant and at Peanut Corp.'s headquarters in Lynchburg, Va., according to a senior congressional aide with knowledge of the raids. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that the number of cases linked to the current outbreak has reached 600, with one case in Florida bringing the number of affected states to 44. It may also have contributed to eight deaths.

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