UPDATE: ConAgra will settle a federal criminal charge by paying $11.2 million, $8 million of that going to criminal fines and $3.2 million headed in forfeitures to the U.S. government, reports the Associated Press.
The only misdemeanor charge against the company — plus a plea deal — stated it shipped salmonella-infected Peter Pan peanut butter from a Georgia plant that sickened hundreds and initiated a large recall in 2007. Company executives did not face charges.
The plea deal is still awaiting federal judge approval.
- The U.S. government finished its investigation of ConAgra Foods' 2007 peanut butter recall following a salmonella outbreak in Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter products.
- According to the Associated Press, "ConAgra spokeswoman Teresa Paulsen declined to comment Tuesday, but the company previously has said it was negotiating an end to the investigation that would likely include a misdemeanor charge of shipping tainted products."
- ConAgra traced the salmonella outbreak to its Sylvester, GA, plant, where the company said moisture issues caused the contamination.
As is often the case today, ConAgra used social media to express confidence in its brand and apparently assuage consumer concerns.
Our Peter Pan peanut butter is safe for all to enjoy. #PeterPanPB— ConAgra Foods (@ConAgraFoods) May 19, 2015
When the ConAgra peanut butter recall first began, many thought it strange that peanut butter would be a culprit in a food safety scandal. Since, however, nuts are a primary focus for food product recalls in the U.S. According to the first-quarter Recall Index from Stericycle Expert Solutions, "About 95% of food recalls in the first quarter were the result of undeclared allergens and 91% were nut or peanut-related," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Food Dive will report the verdict along with any other final details of the investigation as they are released.