Peanut Company Files for Bankruptcy

Though Parnell did not speak out, family members of victims who attended the hearing said his e-mails -- released by the panel Wednesday -- spoke volumes. The company e-mails, obtained by the House panel, suggested the Peanut Corp. of America allowed peanuts, that it knew could be tainted, to leave the plant.

In one e-mail to health officials, Parnell communicated the dire need "to turn the raw peanuts on our floor into money" during the growing recall.

"I didn't think I could possibly get more outraged than I already am about how this happened, but I have to tell you it's really reached another level after seeing e-mails and comments from Mr. Parnell, no excuses," said Jeffrey Almer, whose 72-year-old mother died just before Christmas.

"This company cared more about its financial bottom line than it did about the safety of its customers," said panel chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Lawmakers also said the broader food safety system needs fixing.

"We appear to have a total systemic breakdown, with severe consequences for hundreds of victims, for which we need explanations," said Stupak.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said to FDA food safety director Stephen Sundlof, "Either you don't have the resources, or you are incompetent to do the job you're supposed to do -- which conclusion am I to arrive at?"

"I would hope the former," Sundlof replied.

One major consumer group also took the agency to task.

"It is unacceptable for corporations to put consumers' health at risk, and then simply declare bankruptcy and go out of business when they get caught," stated Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. "We must have an FDA that can oversee food processors so that unscrupulous behavior can be detected, prevented and deterred."

Lawmakers examined the issue the day after the company's subsidiary in Plainview announced it, too, would temporarily close its doors after lab tests detected the possible presence of salmonella. Officials said samples taken last week from the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview were 99 percent positive for salmonella, though those tainted products did not make it to consumers.

On Monday of this week, the FBI raided the Blakely, Ga., facility as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the peanut recall.

The Peanut Corporation of America's third plant, located in Suffolk, Va., was inspected by the FDA Jan 26. The FDA took samples there that came back negative.

ABC News' Lisa Stark and Brian Hartman contributed to this report.

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