ConAgra Foods may face misdemeanor charges related to 2007 recall

by Keith Nunes
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ConAgra may face misdemeanor charges related to a recall of Peter Pan peanut butter.

OMAHA — ConAgra Foods, Inc. is pursuing a negotiated resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice that may result in “a misdemeanor criminal disposition” under the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act, the company said in a July Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The possible charges relate to a 2007 recall of peanut butter products manufactured at a plant in Sylvester, Ga., due to Salmonella contamination that sickened more than 400 people.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Georgia and the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice.

“In fiscal 2011, we received formal requests from the U.S. Attorney's office in Georgia seeking a variety of records and information related to the operations of our peanut butter manufacturing facility in Sylvester, Georgia,” ConAgra said in the S.E.C. filing. “We have been and continue to be engaged in ongoing discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice in regard to the investigation. We are pursuing a negotiated resolution, which we believe will likely involve a misdemeanor criminal disposition under the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act.”

Food Safety News reported in late August that the U.S. Department of Justice began reaching out to people sickened in the outbreak and informing them that “… the government has reason to believe that you may have been the victim of a crime related to an outbreak of Salmonella infections cause by contaminated peanut butter in 2006-2007.”

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