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Last week, a federal Judge in Georgia set a trial date for four individuals facing criminal charges in connection with a 2009 salmonella outbreak that caused nine deaths and made hundreds of individuals sick. Pursuant to the Judge’s order, the trial will begin on February 10, 2014 at the U.S. District Court in Albany, Georgia.

Georgia’s Peanut Corporation of America was linked to a 2009 salmonella outbreak

An investigation into the salmonella outbreak linked the deaths and injuries to tainted product from Peanut Corporation of America, a company based in Lynchburg, Georgia. Accordingly, the company’s owner, Stewart Parnell and three other individuals who were responsible for management of the peanut plant, Michael Parnell, Mary Wilkerson, and Samuel Lightsey were charged with 72 counts in an indictment issued in February of this year.

Criminal charges were filed against the Corporation’s owner and three managers

The four defendants face charges including: conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead. These charges are based on allegations that peanut shipments from Peanut Corporation of America tested positive for Salmonella beginning in 2003. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that the defendants misled federal officials.

In 2010, Peanut Corporation of America entered into settlements for nine wrongful death suits arising out of the salmonella outbreak. The corporation went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 700 salmonella infections were linked to the corporation’s processing plants in Georgia and Texas.

One out of six Americans suffers from food contamination every year

The CDC estimates that nearly 48 million Americans get sick as a result of contaminated food every year. In some instances, the foodborne illness is part of a recognized outbreak. However, this is not always the case.

Salmonella poisoning is one of the most common causes of outbreaks

Among recognized outbreaks, salmonella poisoning is the second most common, accounting for 30 percent of outbreaks. Furthermore, salmonella poising lead to the greatest number of outbreak related hospitalizations. Salmonella found in eggs, sprouts, and vine stalk vegetables caused the greatest number of illnesses. Salmonella in sprouts and vine stalk vegetables also lead to the greatest number of hospitalizations.

Outbreaks are often the result of mishandling at multiple points along the food production chain. Furthermore, almost half of outbreaks are caused by food consumed at either a restaurant or deli.

If you or a loved one have suffered illness as a result of a foodborne illness or, if your loved one has died as a result of a foodborne illness, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can review the circumstances of your case to determine is another party was liable for your suffering. If so, an attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

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