After the contaminated peanut butter was traced back to PCA's Georgia plant, FDA inspectors visited the facility. They found filthy conditions, including holes in the roof, mold and cockroaches. They also found salmonella, according to inspection records.
Stuart Parnell has never spoken publically about the recall. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right, refusing to answer questions when called to testify before Congress. In a statement today, Parnell's attorney Tom Bondurant said, "We will evaluate the charges that have been filed against Mr. Parnell and will prepare for a vigorous defense."
The statement says that the FDA was well aware of the plant's salmonella testing procedures and that state and federal agencies had visited the facility over the years and had voiced no objected to the testing protocols.
In the statement, Parnell's attorney also stated, "It will become clear that Mr. Parnell never intentionally shipped … any tainted food products."
This outbreak once again called into question the system for ensuring food safety in the United States. Many of those who lost loved ones pushed for passage of the new Food Safety Modernization Act, which the Food and Drug Administration calls the most sweeping reform of FDA's food safety authority in more than 70 years. The agency is just starting to implement the new law.
Randy Napier believes until these changes are made, the food supply is no safer than it was when his mother died. "Even going into a grocery store, you're playing Russian roulette with your family and it's not right. It's got to be fixed."
As many as 48 million Americans get sick from food-borne illnesses every year, 128,000 are hospitalized and some 3,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..
Napier and Tousignant are now waiting to see what happens with this case. They both say charges are the first step, but convictions are their goal. Napier says if that happens, "maybe my mother can finally rest in peace."
It's a sentiment Tousignant shares.
"If and when we hopefully do see a conviction, that will really be the best thing that we can do to honor my father and those others that died," he said.