Peanut Company Closes Second Plant

Peanut company president and victims' families invited to testify Wednesday.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 2:39 PM

BLAKELY, Ga., Feb. 10, 2009— -- As people with personal connections to the salmonella outbreak prepared to testify Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill, a flurry of activity continued in one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

New developments unfolded this week in a chain of events that has resulted in the removal of 1,845 peanut products from store shelves, following more than 600 illnesses and an estimated eight deaths linked to bad peanuts.

The FBI raided the Peanut Corporation of America's Blakely, Ga., facility Monday as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the peanut recall. The company's subsidiary in Plainview, Texas, today announced it, too, would temporarily close its doors after lab tests detected the possible presence of salmonella.

Watch "World News With Charles Gibson" tonight at 6:30 ET for the full report.

"Unfortunately, we go from disaster to disaster, if you will," Nancy Donley, president of a food safety advocacy group, Safe Tables Our Priority, or STOP, told ABC News today. "I don't know how many it's going to take to finally get government to wake up and say, 'This is enough. Enough is enough already.'"

Sources said the FBI raided the Blakely plant looking for quality control records and other documents. Agents want to know who oversaw salmonella testing and who was responsible for shipping out tainted products. Investigators from the criminal division of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were in Blakely as well. Authorities also searched the company's home office in Virginia.

In Texas, officials said samples taken last week from the Peanut Corporation of America's Plainview plant are 99 percent positive for salmonella. The tainted products did not make it to consumers. The FDA has now collected 50 additional samples for testing and is not ruling out another recall.

At the Georgia plant today, a few former workers were meeting with the company's attorney, who wasn't talking.

Former workers were also increasingly reluctant to talk. One employee, who asked not to be identified, told ABC News that workers had no idea the company had a dozen positive salmonella tests but shipped out peanut butter and nuts, anyway.

A woman who had been hired to clean the plant, also wanting to remain anonymous, said the facility was filthy.