Ga. plant manager says mold, mildew at processor

by The Associated Press


FILE - This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, shows the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga. The nation's first federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly outbreak of food-borne illness is presenting jurors with a disconcerting fact: America's food safety largely depends on the honor system. Witnesses say Stewart Parnell and other Peanut Corporation of America workers knowingly shipped salmonella tainted nuts with faked data showing they were clean. Their defense, Salmonella tests aren't even required by law. (AP Photo/Elliott Minor)

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — A former plant manager says he saw mildew, mold and dirty equipment at a Georgia peanut processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak.

Samuel Lightsey testified Monday about photographs depicting plant conditions during the trial of his former boss, Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others.

Authorities traced an outbreak of salmonella in 2008 and 2009 to peanut products shipped from the plant.

Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, are accused of shipping tainted products to customers and covering up lab tests showing they contained salmonella. Stewart Parnell and the Georgia plant's quality assurance manager, Mary Wilkerson, are also charged with obstructing justice.

Lightsey, the witness, pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts in May and agreed to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence.

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