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Peanut firm CEO mum at hearing on outbreak

WASHINGTON – The president of Peanut Corp. of America refused to testify or eat his products at a House hearing Wednesday on the salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people nationwide.

The hearing was held as Ohio health officials announced that they have linked a woman’s death to salmonella, the ninth death tied to the outbreak.

PCA president Stewart Parnell, whose plants have drawn blame for the outbreak, was ordered to appear before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee in Washington. He invoked his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. A criminal investigation of the outbreak is pending.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., revealed internal company e-mails in which Parnell expressed concern about losing “$$$$$” due to delays in shipments and the cost of testing products and also ordered salmonella-positive products to be shipped to customers.

At one point in Wednesday’s hearing, Walden held up a clear jar of PCA products wrapped in crime scene tape and asked him if he would be willing to eat the food. Parnell answered no questions.

The FDA says Parnell’s company routinely violated good manufacturing practices and knowingly shipped adulterated products to its customers. The salmonella outbreak has resulted in the recall of more than 1,900 products. Salmonella is especially a concern to young children, the old and immuno-compromised people.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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