Peanut industry leaders ready to move on after Salmonella verdic - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Peanut industry leaders ready to move on after Salmonella verdict

TIFT CO., GA (WALB) - Peanut farmers are ready to put a deadly salmonella outbreak behind them.

Friday, people blamed for the outbreak were convicted almost six years after tainted peanut products killed at least 9 people and made hundreds more sick.

The outbreak led to stricter food safety regulations, and more may be on the way.

Peanut industry leaders say their products are safer than ever.

 September means one thing for Georgia peanut farmers, it's harvest time.

"We want to grow the safest food we can for our consumers, and keep selling peanuts and keep growing peanuts and keep eating peanuts," said Georgia peanut farmer Philip Grimes.

From here these peanuts will go to a buyer, and then a processing plant. One former processing plant, Peanut Corporation of America, now sits abandoned in Blakely, but the actions taken in that plant created a cloud over the peanut industry for the last half decade.

"We're glad to see this chapter end and move on to a better things and get this industry moving," said Executive Director of the National Peanut Buying Point Association Tyron Spearman.

That chapter ended last Friday with guilty verdicts on most counts for former owner Stewart Parnell, and his brother, Michael. Moving forward, Grimes says things should be simple.

"From here forward, we should have better regulations on food safety."

This trial has made everyone realize that those regulations apply to everyone in the peanut industry.

"It really emphasizes each segment and the importance of it. Whether it's the farmer, or all the way to the manufacturer, you know that every segment is important to the food safety. We're probably more food safety conscious now because of this, I know we are, than ever before," said Spearman.

Spearman wants customers to know this case at PCA was an isolated incident.

"People know that our industry strives for the best quality. We just had one problem here and it's been eliminated now. So consumers are still depending on us to produce the best quality," said Spearman.

And Grimes is doing just that, one acre at a time.


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