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Processor cheated on testing: witness

ALBANY, Ga. -- A Georgia food processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak cheated on testing and shipped thousands of pounds of peanut products after learning its products were contaminated, a former plant manager testified Monday.

Samuel Lightsey is a key government witness against his former boss, Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others.

He described documents to jurors that show Peanut Corporation shipped peanuts to companies in Missouri, Illinois and other points after receiving laboratory warnings that product samples had tested positive for salmonella. In other instances, the company cheated on safety testing by switching samples, Lightsey said.

Company records from September 2007 show the firm requested testing on a sample of peanut paste made for Kellogg's before plant workers actually made the paste. Lightsey said workers had pulled a sample from an earlier batch. Prosecutor Patrick Hearn asked whether the company could have known whether those products were safe.

"They would have not known unless they had additional samples pulled," Lightsey said.

The 2008-09 salmonella outbreak caused one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. More than 700 people across the country were infected and nine people died.

 

Firms submit buyout offer to Chiquita

NEW YORK -- Chiquita Brands has attracted an approximately $611-million buyout offer from investment firm Safra Group and Brazilian agribusiness and juice company Cutrale Group.

Safra and Cutrale are offering $13 per share, a 29 per cent premium to Chiquita Brands International Inc.'s closing price of $10.06 on Friday.

The unsolicited bid disclosed Monday comes as Chiquita and Fyffes of Ireland were working on their own transaction. The two companies agreed in March to merge in a stock-for-stock deal to create the world's biggest banana supplier. If a transaction were to occur between Chiquita and Fyffes, Chiquita's headquarters would move from Charlotte, N.C., to Dublin, a more tax-efficient corporate base.

In a letter sent to Chiquita president and CEO Edward Lonergan and chairwoman Kerrii Anderson, Safra and Cutrale said they believe their proposed transaction doesn't have the same execution risk and uncertainty a deal with Fyffes does.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2014 B5

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