Prosecutor: Plant owner OK'd tainted peanut sales

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Prosecutors are wrapping up their case against the owner of a Georgia peanut plant linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak, saying he knowingly approved shipments of tainted food "whatever the risk."

Jurors began hearing closing arguments Thursday in the five-week federal trial of former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two others charged with covering up lab tests that found salmonella in peanuts and peanut butter. The company's products are blamed for killing nine Americans and making 714 others sick in 2008 and 2009.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Dasher told jurors Parnell's guiding principle was "just ship it" — a phrase he used in a 2007 email telling subordinates not to wait on routine lab tests for salmonella.

Defense attorneys were expected to give their closings later Thursday.