Chief executive officer Conviction Aligns With Trend of Aggressive Foodborne Illness Prosecutions

Chief executive officer Conviction Aligns With Trend of Aggressive Foodborne Illness Prosecutions

Chief executive officer Conviction Aligns With Trend of Aggressive Foodborne Illness Prosecutions


The previous Chief executive officer of Peanut Corporation of the usa (PCA), continues to be sentenced for an unparalleled 28 years for his role within the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak from the deaths of nine people and most 700 illnesses. Even though it is not news those meals companies and company officials are more and more facing criminal sanctions for shipping adulterated foods into commerce, Stewart Parnell’s extended term of jail time – and also the government’s rationale for recommending a existence sentence – is definitely an abnormally harsh illustration of the speeding up trend of aggressive prosecution following foodborne illness outbreaks.

Aggressive Prosecution and Sentencing – Why the PCA Situation Differs

A couple of things set Parnell’s situation aside from other recent prosecutions following foodborne illness outbreaks:

  1. The federal government introduced overwhelming proof of particularly egregious misconduct by Parnell yet others (i.e., emails directing shipment of merchandise which in fact had unsuccessful microbiological testing or which test outcome was not available, and falsification of certificates of research). In viewing government, this evidence shown an entire disregard for consumer safety and health and supported its decision to charge Parnell with multiple felonies. A Georgia federal jury agreed, finding Parnell guilty on 67 counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, legal shipment of adulterated and misbranded foods, and obstruction of justice.
  2.  PCA products so permeated the marketplace the financial losses were within the vast sums. Although peanuts processed by PCA taken into account for the most part 2 percent from the U.S. peanut supply, the PCA scandal caused greater than 200 food companies to recall over 3,900 products. The financial effect on these corporate victims created the foundation for loss calculations varying between $100 million-$200 million, which led to a 26-point begin the offense level for Parnell under federal sentencing guidelines. Individuals 26 levels were the web site sentencing selection of 37-46 several weeks and existence jail time.

In comparison, within the Quality Egg prosecution, there have been 1,939 confirmed Salmonella Enteriditis illnesses and financial losses to greater than 250 retail egg customers totaling between $400,000-$1,000,000. Yet Jack DeCoster, a Chief executive officer having a criminal background, opted to plead guilty to misdemeanor introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce (which has a one-year statutory maximum sentence) and it was sentenced this April to 3 months’ incarceration.

Had the sentencing court selected to impose on Parnell consecutive sentences for each one of the 67 counts of conviction, his sentence might have been up to 9,636 several weeks, or 803 years. A legal court ultimately sentenced Parnell to twenty-eight years, a phrase far under the statutory maximum, but that is effectively a existence sentence for that 61-year-old Parnell.

DOJ Intensifying Investigations into Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

Searching ahead, the us government makes it obvious that it’ll take a hostile enforcement posture against responsible corporate officials for misdemeanor and legal offenses whenever foodborne illness outbreaks lead to significant illness or dying. Parnell’s conviction and sentence is only the latest illustration of the Justice Department’s efforts to carry individual employees – including high-ranking executives – accountable for corporate misconduct, and individuals efforts is only going to intensify.

  • Indeed, under three days ago, DOJ released new guidance addressing individual liability for corporate wrongdoing. That guidance provides that:
  • To become qualified for cooperation credit, corporations must disclose all relevant details concerning the individuals accountable for misconduct.
  • Civil and criminal prosecutors should concentrate on individuals in the start of investigations.
  • Civil and criminal prosecutors should maintain regulation communication with one another during corporate investigations.
  • Absent remarkable conditions, no corporate resolution will authorize immunity for potentially culpable individuals.
  • Corporate investigations shouldn’t be settled with no “clear plan” to solve related individual cases.
  • Civil attorneys might no longer decline suits against individuals based exclusively on their own lack of ability to pay for fines or penalties, but should rather consider factors for example deterrence and accountability when assessing civil action.

With sentences of incarceration now enforced even just in misdemeanor convictions – and remarkable penalties at risk in legal cases – food companies and CEOs are once more advised from the critical need for submission with food safety rules and proactively managing all areas of their response should an episode occur.



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