4 indicted in peanut salmonella outbreak that killed MN woman

11:36 AM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA - A federal grand jury has indicted four people in a 2009 salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut processing plant that killed nine people, including a woman from Minnesota.

The indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Georgia charges four employees with Virginia-based Peanut Corp. of America. The charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and others related to contaminated or misbranded food.

The company's filthy processing plants were blamed for the outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds. The company later went bankrupt.

Named in the indictment were company owner Stewart Parnell, vice president Michael Parnell, Georgia plant manager Samuel Lightsey and Georgia plant quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson.

Shirley Mae Almer of Perham died in December of 2008 after eating contaminated peanut butter at Good Samaritan Society-Bethany, the Brainerd nursing home where she lived, attorney Fred Pritzker said at the time.

The deaths of two other Minnesota nursing home residents during the same time period was also tied to the salmonella outbreak.  

Almer's family filed a lawsuit againt Peanut Corp. of America and King Nut Cos., the maker and distributor of peanut butter that has been recalled in the outbreak. More than 430 people in 43 states have been sickened.

"She was the canary in the coal mine," Pritzker said of Almer. He said the nursing home was where the Minnesota Health Department first found the contaminated peanut butter.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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