MR. PEANUT GOES TO WASHINGTON: Pleads 5th

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Stewart Parnell, the Peanut Corp. owner, refused to answer the congressional subcommittee’s questions Mr.PEANUT_1.jpgWednesday, repeatedly invoking his 5th Amendment rights. Internal company e-mails obtained by the subcommittee show the company’s president was alerted on numerous occasions to the fact that batches of the company’s products were infected with salmonella. Yet according to Parnell’s e-mail responses, he instructed staff to “turn the product loose.” At the hearing, Parnell said only: “Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, on advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer your questions based on the protections afforded me under the U.S. Constitution.” MORE

RELATED: A congressional subcommittee investigating the recent salmonella outbreak released e-mails Wednesday showing that the owner of a peanut company discounted warnings that nuts were infected with the deadly bacteria. “This lot is presumptive SALMONELLA!!!!” wrote plant worker Mary Wilkerson last June 6 to company officials. That same day, Stewart Parnell, owner and president of Peanut Corp. of America, replied, “thanks Mary, I go thru this about once a week…I will hold my breath………again…” The e-mails were released the same day the House energy and commerce subcommittee announced that a ninth death, that of an elderly Ohio woman, had been tied to the outbreak. The panel also heard testimony from family members of people killed or sickened by salmonella. MORE

peanut_pimp.thumbnail.jpgRELATED: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) held up a gallon bucket wrapped in yellow crime scene tape and presumably containing a recalled peanut butter product, and asked Parnell if he would be willing to “take the lid off” and eat any of it. Parnell again invoked the 5th Amendment and was ushered out of the hearing room along with Lightsey and their counsel. Before his dismissal, subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) asked Parnell, “The food poisoning of people, is that just a cost of doing business for you?” MORE

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