February 13, 2009 / 2:34 AM / 10 years ago

Texas orders peanut recall from company's 2nd plant

The building of the now-closed Peanut Corporation of America plant is pictured in Blakely, Georgia on January 29, 2009. The U.S. government launched a criminal investigation on January 30, 2009, after salmonella found at the plant in rural southwest Georgia have been linked to making 500 people sick and may have killed eight people. REUTERS/Matthew Bigg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Texas state health officials said on Thursday they had ordered the recall of products made at a plant operated by a company at the center of a big salmonella outbreak.

They said they had ordered Peanut Corp. of America to recall all products made at its Plainview, Texas, plant, which was closed this week as part of an investigation into the outbreak, which made about 600 people sick and may have killed nine.

“The order was issued after dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers were discovered yesterday in a crawl space above a production area during an in-depth Department of State Health Services inspection,” the agency said in a statement.

“The inspection also found that the plant’s air handling system was not completely sealed and was pulling debris from the infested crawl space into production areas of the plant resulting in the adulteration of exposed food products.”

On Wednesday, Peanut Corp. of America owner and president Stewart Parnell refused to testify before a congressional committee that subpoenaed him for questioning about the outbreak.

The salmonella outbreak traced to the company’s plant in Blakely, Georgia, has forced one of the biggest food recalls in U.S. history, scared Americans away from one of their staple foods and brought the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under intense scrutiny.

Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that called on Parnell, said he was alarmed to hear about the conditions at the second plant.

“More alarming is the concern that there could be hundreds or even thousands of food processing facilities operating in this country that have never been inspected by the FDA, just as this plant has been doing since March 2005,” Stupak said in a statement.

The FDA has asked Congress for more powers and more resources to inspect food facilities.

Reporting by Maggie Fox

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