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Are Inspectors to Blame For the Peanut Salmonella Outbreak?

While the company behind the peanut salmonella scare has been shut down, many people are still wondering who's really to blame for the ordeal. Was it the president of the Peanut Corporation of America, who knowingly sent contaminated goods to the stores? Or was it the government, who failed to detect that the production plants were in disgusting conditions?

According to a recent article by The New York Times, the guilty party could actually be the private inspectors who check and rate a plant's food safety level. An audit conducted by an inspector last March declared that the gross facility in Georgia had a food safety level of "superior." According to the FDA, however, the same plant had been plagued by salmonella for at least the past nine months. This isn't the first known case where a private inspector failed to properly monitor a food plant, the Times reports:

An examination of the largest food poisoning outbreaks in recent years — in products as varied as spinach, pet food, and a children’s snack, Veggie Booty — show that auditors failed to detect problems at plants whose contaminated products later sickened consumers.

Although I understand that food safety is an incredibly hard thing to oversee, I can't help but feel a little queasy about this news. I hope that after such a widespread contamination, changes are made to correct the system. How do you feel about the ordeal? Who do you blame for the outbreak?


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