DALLAS (AP) - A Texas inspector never noted that a peanut plant
at the center of a salmonella outbreak had no state health
department license -- despite at least three visits.
Details are in interviews and documents obtained by The
AP today reports the inspector responsible for certifying the
Plainview plant noted after each visit that the plant had such a
license -- when it didn't.
Problems at the plant operated by Peanut Corp. of America might
have been flagged years ago had the inspector, who has since been
fired, reported the plant's failure to obtain the required license.
When the plant was finally inspected earlier this year, Texas
health officials found dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird
feathers in a crawl space above a production area.
That led regulators to order a recall of all products the plant
had shipped since 2005.
Inspector Gaylon Amonett was fired on Feb. 13 -- the day after
state health officials ordered the recall.
Texas Department of Agriculture spokesman Bryan Black said if
the lack of a license had been properly noted -- the department
would have denied it organic certification.
Amonett acknowledged he checked "yes" on whether the Plainview
plant had records showing it was in compliance with health codes
for inspections in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
The reason he checked "yes" the first time was because a plant
manager told him an application for state health department
licensing was completed and was at company headquarters.
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