Stewart Parnell, the executive of the Peanut Corporation of America, could spend the rest of his life behind bars after selling salmonella-tainted peanut butter to a wide range of customers.
Former peanut company executive Stewart Parnell could face life behind bars after a 2014 conviction found him guilty of crimes related to a salmonella outbreak that left nine dead and hundreds ill. According to a report from USA Today, the 61-year-old was the former head of Peanut Corporation of America, and will be sentenced today in a Georgia federal court.
Parnell, along with his brother and former manager, were found guilty of what many are calling the first food-poisoning trial of U.S. producers. The FDA and the CDC traced a nationwide salmonella outbreak back to Parnell’s roasting plant in Blakely, GA. The salmonella outbreak made 714 people ill across 46 states and resulted in nine deaths, according to the CDC.
The salmonella cases began surfacing in January 2009, and led to one of the largest food recalls in United States history. Parnell was convicted by a federal jury on 71 criminal counts last September, including conspiracy, introduction of adulterated food, and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors presented evidence that the executive knowingly shipped peanut butter contaminated with salmonella to Kellogg’s and other customers. The tainted peanut butter made its way in to packaged crackers and pet food, among other products.
In addition to a stiff jail sentence, Parnell could also be held accountable for up to $200 million in losses.