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Academia Has Most Food Safety Educators, Government Reaches Most Consumers

According to an analysis by the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE), academia, public health agencies and schools are the most active sources of food safety education in the U.S.

PFSE commissioned North Carolina State University to conduct the survey to identify the organizations most involved with food safety education, the audiences they serve, and the channels they use most frequently to communicate safe food handling messages.

The organization released the results of its “environmental scan” at the 2014 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference on Thursday, Dec. 4.

“We were looking to identify as many of the robust sources of consumer education and outreach programming as we could in the United States because it’s very important to how the Partnership does its job and how we plan for the future,” said Shelley Feist, PFSE executive director.

The survey found that academia (including cooperative extension) is the biggest source for consumer educators, followed by public health services, Family and Consumer Sciences teachers and people involved with school food service, the federal government, and non-profit organizations.

One highlight of the research was that most food safety education is done in person. According to the survey, 90 percent of the people who consider themselves food safety educators use face-to-face meetings and presentations.

The next most popular channel was the web, which is used by 36 percent of educators — mostly in the federal government.

Other channels include television, print media, phones and poster displays.

While cooperative extension represents the majority of educators who come in contact with consumers, the survey found that the government reaches the most people on an annual basis (through programs such as Food Safe Families, Cook it Safe and Fight BAC!).

Across the three most active groups, children and families with children are the primary targets for education — important since half of all foodborne illness hospitalizations are children.

One disappointing finding was that half of educators reported that they were not monitoring their organizations’ impact or don’t know whether they are.

“This is an area we all intend to work together on improving,” Feist said.

PFSE plans to host a webinar in February to dig deeper into the data and discuss how to allocate resources in the future.

Food Safety News

GAO Finds Fault With Government Tests for Pesticide Residues

Government agencies in charge of monitoring food for pesticide residues must step up their testing programs, said the Government Accountability Office in a new report.

While data collected by these agencies has shown low levels of pesticide residue violations in the past few years, shortcomings in sampling methods mean some residue violations may be going undetected, according to the report, published Friday.

Three government agencies — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service — are responsible for testing the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues.

FDA’s and FSIS’s findings are used to enforce the residue tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, while AMS’ data is used to give EPA an idea of dietary exposures to pesticides from year to year.

In its report, GAO found significant flaws in FDA and FSIS’s programs, concluding that their testing methods are “limited” and that they don’t do an adequate job of reporting these limitations.

FDA’s sampling program is not statistically valid, said the report, because it targets foods that have already been shown to have higher residue levels in the past rather than selecting samples completely at random. This means that findings of pesticide residues, or a lack of residues, cannot be extrapolated to reflect a greater trend. Without a random sampling method, FDA, which is responsible for testing all produce, dairy products, seafoods and spices, cannot determine the overall incidence of pesticide residues in bigger populations of foods, such as domestic or imported foods, or a certain commodity.

The report also found that FDA’s new tool for identifying foods that might be more likely to carry high levels of pesticides is flawed because it relies on multiple sources of information.

In addition, FDA does not test for many pesticides for which EPA has set tolerance levels, found GAO, a fact it said the agency should disclose in its reports.

In its review of FSIS’s testing, GAO said the agency, responsible for animal products, dramatically reduced the frequency of its residue testing between 2000 and 2009, over which time the number of samples collected dropped from 8,000 to under 1,900 per year. Since 2010 that number has started to climb up again.

GAO also noted that, like FDA, FSIS does not test for all pesticides with established tolerances.  After updating its equipment to be able to test for more pesticides, FSIS is now testing for 85 of the 207 substances on EPA’s priority list.

Both FDA and FSIS should disclose which pesticides for which they are not testing, despite the fact those chemicals have established tolerance levels, said GAO.

The report generally praised AMS’s residue testing program. While the agency has some minor problems with its methodology, according to GAO’s findings, it has a robust sampling program that provides “valuable information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues in food.”

GAO acknowledged that the bulk of the pesticide monitoring task falls to FDA. The agency is responsible for monitoring residues in approximately $ 400 billion worth of domestic foods and $ 50 billion in imported foods.

In response to GAO’s study, FDA said it is expanding its pesticide testing program, but that its top priority is preventing human illness from microbiological contamination in these same foods, so that is where it allocates the bulk of its resources. FDA also noted that implementing a statistically valid sampling program would require significantly more resources, and that it uses data from AMS too identify problem foods to assign certain commodities to a higher risk category.

History of Pesticide Residue Testing

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency reassess all existing tolerance levels for pesticides used on food that had been approved for use before November of 1984. By 2007, EPA had completed 9,721 reassessments, which are now used to determine whether detected pesticide residues are at safe levels.

Since the reassessments, the use of certain pesticides, such as organophosphate insecticides, which were shown to be toxic at high levels, have decreased significantly.

U.S. farming operations used an estimated 684 million pounds of conventional pesticides in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

GAO noted that it’s difficult to associate the amount of pesticides used with the risk to human health, since they constitute such a wide variety of chemicals in varying amounts.

We were unable to find publicly available estimates of the overall toxicity or risk associated with the use of agricultural pesticides in the United States,” note the authors.

 

Food Safety News

GAO Finds Fault With Government Tests for Pesticide Residues

Government agencies in charge of monitoring food for pesticide residues must step up their testing programs, said the Government Accountability Office in a new report.

While data collected by these agencies has shown low levels of pesticide residue violations in the past few years, shortcomings in sampling methods mean some residue violations may be going undetected, according to the report, published Friday.

Three government agencies — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service — are responsible for testing the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues.

FDA’s and FSIS’s findings are used to enforce the residue tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, while AMS’ data is used to give EPA an idea of dietary exposures to pesticides from year to year.

In its report, GAO found significant flaws in FDA and FSIS’s programs, concluding that their testing methods are “limited” and that they don’t do an adequate job of reporting these limitations.

FDA’s sampling program is not statistically valid, said the report, because it targets foods that have already been shown to have higher residue levels in the past rather than selecting samples completely at random. This means that findings of pesticide residues, or a lack of residues, cannot be extrapolated to reflect a greater trend. Without a random sampling method, FDA, which is responsible for testing all produce, dairy products, seafoods and spices, cannot determine the overall incidence of pesticide residues in bigger populations of foods, such as domestic or imported foods, or a certain commodity.

The report also found that FDA’s new tool for identifying foods that might be more likely to carry high levels of pesticides is flawed because it relies on multiple sources of information.

In addition, FDA does not test for many pesticides for which EPA has set tolerance levels, found GAO, a fact it said the agency should disclose in its reports.

In its review of FSIS’s testing, GAO said the agency, responsible for animal products, dramatically reduced the frequency of its residue testing between 2000 and 2009, over which time the number of samples collected dropped from 8,000 to under 1,900 per year. Since 2010 that number has started to climb up again.

GAO also noted that, like FDA, FSIS does not test for all pesticides with established tolerances.  After updating its equipment to be able to test for more pesticides, FSIS is now testing for 85 of the 207 substances on EPA’s priority list.

Both FDA and FSIS should disclose which pesticides for which they are not testing, despite the fact those chemicals have established tolerance levels, said GAO.

The report generally praised AMS’s residue testing program. While the agency has some minor problems with its methodology, according to GAO’s findings, it has a robust sampling program that provides “valuable information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues in food.”

GAO acknowledged that the bulk of the pesticide monitoring task falls to FDA. The agency is responsible for monitoring residues in approximately $ 400 billion worth of domestic foods and $ 50 billion in imported foods.

In response to GAO’s study, FDA said it is expanding its pesticide testing program, but that its top priority is preventing human illness from microbiological contamination in these same foods, so that is where it allocates the bulk of its resources. FDA also noted that implementing a statistically valid sampling program would require significantly more resources, and that it uses data from AMS too identify problem foods to assign certain commodities to a higher risk category.

History of Pesticide Residue Testing

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency reassess all existing tolerance levels for pesticides used on food that had been approved for use before November of 1984. By 2007, EPA had completed 9,721 reassessments, which are now used to determine whether detected pesticide residues are at safe levels.

Since the reassessments, the use of certain pesticides, such as organophosphate insecticides, which were shown to be toxic at high levels, have decreased significantly.

U.S. farming operations used an estimated 684 million pounds of conventional pesticides in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

GAO noted that it’s difficult to associate the amount of pesticides used with the risk to human health, since they constitute such a wide variety of chemicals in varying amounts.

We were unable to find publicly available estimates of the overall toxicity or risk associated with the use of agricultural pesticides in the United States,” note the authors.

 

Food Safety News

GAO Finds Fault With Government Tests for Pesticide Residues

Government agencies in charge of monitoring food for pesticide residues must step up their testing programs, said the Government Accountability Office in a new report.

While data collected by these agencies has shown low levels of pesticide residue violations in the past few years, shortcomings in sampling methods mean some residue violations may be going undetected, according to the report, published Friday.

Three government agencies — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service — are responsible for testing the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues.

FDA’s and FSIS’s findings are used to enforce the residue tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, while AMS’ data is used to give EPA an idea of dietary exposures to pesticides from year to year.

In its report, GAO found significant flaws in FDA and FSIS’s programs, concluding that their testing methods are “limited” and that they don’t do an adequate job of reporting these limitations.

FDA’s sampling program is not statistically valid, said the report, because it targets foods that have already been shown to have higher residue levels in the past rather than selecting samples completely at random. This means that findings of pesticide residues, or a lack of residues, cannot be extrapolated to reflect a greater trend. Without a random sampling method, FDA, which is responsible for testing all produce, dairy products, seafoods and spices, cannot determine the overall incidence of pesticide residues in bigger populations of foods, such as domestic or imported foods, or a certain commodity.

The report also found that FDA’s new tool for identifying foods that might be more likely to carry high levels of pesticides is flawed because it relies on multiple sources of information.

In addition, FDA does not test for many pesticides for which EPA has set tolerance levels, found GAO, a fact it said the agency should disclose in its reports.

In its review of FSIS’s testing, GAO said the agency, responsible for animal products, dramatically reduced the frequency of its residue testing between 2000 and 2009, over which time the number of samples collected dropped from 8,000 to under 1,900 per year. Since 2010 that number has started to climb up again.

GAO also noted that, like FDA, FSIS does not test for all pesticides with established tolerances.  After updating its equipment to be able to test for more pesticides, FSIS is now testing for 85 of the 207 substances on EPA’s priority list.

Both FDA and FSIS should disclose which pesticides for which they are not testing, despite the fact those chemicals have established tolerance levels, said GAO.

The report generally praised AMS’s residue testing program. While the agency has some minor problems with its methodology, according to GAO’s findings, it has a robust sampling program that provides “valuable information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues in food.”

GAO acknowledged that the bulk of the pesticide monitoring task falls to FDA. The agency is responsible for monitoring residues in approximately $ 400 billion worth of domestic foods and $ 50 billion in imported foods.

In response to GAO’s study, FDA said it is expanding its pesticide testing program, but that its top priority is preventing human illness from microbiological contamination in these same foods, so that is where it allocates the bulk of its resources. FDA also noted that implementing a statistically valid sampling program would require significantly more resources, and that it uses data from AMS too identify problem foods to assign certain commodities to a higher risk category.

History of Pesticide Residue Testing

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency reassess all existing tolerance levels for pesticides used on food that had been approved for use before November of 1984. By 2007, EPA had completed 9,721 reassessments, which are now used to determine whether detected pesticide residues are at safe levels.

Since the reassessments, the use of certain pesticides, such as organophosphate insecticides, which were shown to be toxic at high levels, have decreased significantly.

U.S. farming operations used an estimated 684 million pounds of conventional pesticides in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

GAO noted that it’s difficult to associate the amount of pesticides used with the risk to human health, since they constitute such a wide variety of chemicals in varying amounts.

We were unable to find publicly available estimates of the overall toxicity or risk associated with the use of agricultural pesticides in the United States,” note the authors.

 

Food Safety News

GAO Finds Fault With Government Tests for Pesticide Residues

Government agencies in charge of monitoring food for pesticide residues must step up their testing programs, said the Government Accountability Office in a new report.

While data collected by these agencies has shown low levels of pesticide residue violations in the past few years, shortcomings in sampling methods mean some residue violations may be going undetected, according to the report, published Friday.

Three government agencies — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service — are responsible for testing the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues.

FDA’s and FSIS’s findings are used to enforce the residue tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, while AMS’ data is used to give EPA an idea of dietary exposures to pesticides from year to year.

In its report, GAO found significant flaws in FDA and FSIS’s programs, concluding that their testing methods are “limited” and that they don’t do an adequate job of reporting these limitations.

FDA’s sampling program is not statistically valid, said the report, because it targets foods that have already been shown to have higher residue levels in the past rather than selecting samples completely at random. This means that findings of pesticide residues, or a lack of residues, cannot be extrapolated to reflect a greater trend. Without a random sampling method, FDA, which is responsible for testing all produce, dairy products, seafoods and spices, cannot determine the overall incidence of pesticide residues in bigger populations of foods, such as domestic or imported foods, or a certain commodity.

The report also found that FDA’s new tool for identifying foods that might be more likely to carry high levels of pesticides is flawed because it relies on multiple sources of information.

In addition, FDA does not test for many pesticides for which EPA has set tolerance levels, found GAO, a fact it said the agency should disclose in its reports.

In its review of FSIS’s testing, GAO said the agency, responsible for animal products, dramatically reduced the frequency of its residue testing between 2000 and 2009, over which time the number of samples collected dropped from 8,000 to under 1,900 per year. Since 2010 that number has started to climb up again.

GAO also noted that, like FDA, FSIS does not test for all pesticides with established tolerances.  After updating its equipment to be able to test for more pesticides, FSIS is now testing for 85 of the 207 substances on EPA’s priority list.

Both FDA and FSIS should disclose which pesticides for which they are not testing, despite the fact those chemicals have established tolerance levels, said GAO.

The report generally praised AMS’s residue testing program. While the agency has some minor problems with its methodology, according to GAO’s findings, it has a robust sampling program that provides “valuable information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues in food.”

GAO acknowledged that the bulk of the pesticide monitoring task falls to FDA. The agency is responsible for monitoring residues in approximately $ 400 billion worth of domestic foods and $ 50 billion in imported foods.

In response to GAO’s study, FDA said it is expanding its pesticide testing program, but that its top priority is preventing human illness from microbiological contamination in these same foods, so that is where it allocates the bulk of its resources. FDA also noted that implementing a statistically valid sampling program would require significantly more resources, and that it uses data from AMS too identify problem foods to assign certain commodities to a higher risk category.

History of Pesticide Residue Testing

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency reassess all existing tolerance levels for pesticides used on food that had been approved for use before November of 1984. By 2007, EPA had completed 9,721 reassessments, which are now used to determine whether detected pesticide residues are at safe levels.

Since the reassessments, the use of certain pesticides, such as organophosphate insecticides, which were shown to be toxic at high levels, have decreased significantly.

U.S. farming operations used an estimated 684 million pounds of conventional pesticides in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

GAO noted that it’s difficult to associate the amount of pesticides used with the risk to human health, since they constitute such a wide variety of chemicals in varying amounts.

We were unable to find publicly available estimates of the overall toxicity or risk associated with the use of agricultural pesticides in the United States,” note the authors.

 

Food Safety News

Senators Ask Government to Consider Food Safety When Reviewing Smithfield Deal

Fifteen U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle are urging the government to consider food safety as they review the proposed sale of Smithfield Foods, America’s largest pork company, to Shuanghui International, China’s largest meat processor.

The $ 4.7 billion deal, which would be the largest Chinese takeover of an American company, will be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency committee chaired by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that includes 16 agencies, including the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security, that reviews foreign investment to ensure national security is not compromised. In a letter to the Treasury last week, the Senators asked Mr. Lew to include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the review process so that both the food supply and food safety issues can be taken into consideration — the latter is especially of concern to American consumers in the wake of a slew of food safety scandals in China.

“We believe that our food supply is critical infrastructure that should be included in any reasonable person’s definition of national security,” read the letter, which was signed by 15 out of 20 senators on the Agriculture Committee. “Any CFIUS review of this transaction should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety, and biosecurity.”

Citing the potential for other foreign acquisitions of American food and agriculture companies, the lawmakers said they have questions about “whether the appropriate authorities are evaluating potential risks and proposing sufficient mitigation measures to protect American interests” and asked CFIUS to consider making USDA one of the lead agencies on the committee.

“The United States has the safest, most efficient and reliable food supply in the world,” the letter continued. “It is one of our nation’s great strengths, and we must ensure that it is preserved and protected.”

The letter, signed by Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member Thad Chochran (R-MS) as well as four other Republicans and nine other Democrats, said the committee would examine how the transiction is reviewed and take a look at how similar transactions should be reviewed in the future.

News of the sale of Smithfield Foods, garnered a mixed reaction. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and several food safety experts, including Bill Marler (publisher of Food Safety News), have pointed out that regardless of ownership Smithfield Foods still falls under jurisdiction of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, but others have expressed concerns about whether the acquisition could open the door to unsafe products being imported into the United States.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said, “This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers…We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork.  This merger may only make it more difficult to protect the food supply.”

On Tuesday, China’s Commerce Ministry Shen Danyang responded to the concerns raised by U.S. lawmakers.

“China’s quality management of pork imports and Shuanghui’s purchase of Smithfield are totally unrelated to U.S. food safety,” said Danyang. “We hope the U.S. will treat the merger case fairly and properly.”

Danyang noted that China does not ban U.S. pork imports, the country only prohibits the import of pork from pigs raised on ractopamine, a growth promoting drug widely used in the U.S. pork industry.

As Food Safety News reported earlier this month, the Shuanghui acquisition raises new questions about the future of the controversial feed additive, which is also used by Canada, Brazil, and others, but banned by the European Union, Russia, and China.

This article has been updated to include China’s response.

Food Safety News

Government Gets More Time to Respond to DeCoster’s No-Jail Argument

Because the defense attorney for Austin “Jack” DeCoster has raised a “novel constitutional issue that appears to be a matter of first impression,” assistant U.S. District Attorney Peter E. Deegan Jr. has asked the judge for more time to respond.

DeCoster, who is awaiting sentencing on a federal misdemeanor, claims he cannot be incarcerated or even confined to his home in Maine with so much as an ankle bracelet because the guilty plea he’s offered is for a crime involving strict liability, meaning intent was never an issue.

An issue of “first impression” is a legal case for which there is no binding legal authority, so the court is being asked to decide an original issue. Usually such issues cannot be decided by relying on precedent, and no higher court has made a ruling that might be relied upon.

Iowa U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett responded to Deegan’s request for more time by extending the government’s deadline for filing a response from today to the close of business next Thursday, Oct. 23.

The defense motion seeks to have the federal judge in Sioux City rule favorably on both the plea agreement the government entered into with DeCoster and a finding that the defendant’s incarceration or confinement would violate the U.S. Constitution.

For the 71-year-old DeCoster, getting through the criminal charges against him, his 51-year-old son, Peter, and their Quality Egg family trust without doing any time behind bars has emerged as a priority. In June, Peter DeCoster also pleaded guilty to a single “strict liability” misdemeanor.

Quality Egg LLC pleaded guilty as a corporate entity to two federal misdemeanors and the felony charge of bribing a public official. Together, the three defendants agreed to pay fines totaling $ 7 million.

However, the constitutional issue and appeals of certain information in the Presentencing Investigative Report (PSIR), which remains sealed by the court, have held up sentencing.

The charges resulted from a federal investigation of the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that saw DeCoster-owned egg farms in Iowa recall more than a half-billion shell eggs.

Food Safety News

External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) for Civil Aviation Sector

RBI/2012-13/545 A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 116 June 25, 2013 To, All Authorized Dealer Category – I Banks Madam / Sir External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) for Civil Aviation Sector Attention of Authorized Dealer Category-I (AD Category-I) banks is invited to the A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 113 dated April 24, 2012 on the captioned subject. 2. In [...]

The post External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) for Civil Aviation Sector appeared first on Corporate Law Reporter.

Government Narrows Scope of Subpoenas for PCA’s Past Corporate Attorneys

In response to the trial judge’s specific request, government attorneys have filed an additional response to a motion by former attorneys for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to quash a subpoena for information they hold, and here and there they’ve narrowed what they will call good enough.

Department of Justice trial attorney Patrick H. Hearn filed an 11-page memorandum requested by Judge W. Louis Sands within an imposed 7-day deadline. The memo defends the government’s subpoenas of two nationally known law firms, Atlanta-based Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Meagher & Geer, PLLP.

In moving to have those subpoenas quashed, the two law firms raised legal issues involving attorney-client and work product privilege that Sands did not think the government addressed in its first response.

The two law firms are so-called “non-parties” in the current criminal trial underway in Albany, GA where three former PCA executives have plead not guilty to a total of 71 federal felonies. The subpoenaed law firms do not represent any of the three defendants in the criminal trial, but did represent the now defunct corporate entity in civil and business matters.

In his “do-over” response, Hearn said the government is seeking “only those documents that reflect any verbatim or near verbatim statements by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, or Mary Wilkerson, concerning their work at PCA.”

Hearn says neither law firm ever represented any of the defendants as individuals. “Both represented the corporate entity PCA, “ he writes. “There is, therefore, no attorney-client privilege that attaches to any interactions between and amount the defendants and (the two law firms).

Weinberg Wheeler, which managed the PCA liquidation, signed the joint (criminal) defense agreement, an action that caused the government to limit its subpoena only to materials held prior to Feb. 11, 2009.

Hearn then goes on to argue that the government is not saying work product protections are waived, but to question whether they appropriately apply to materials requested.

The government memo also says it is seeking only “facts” and fact-based work product can be subjected to discovery. “Not every document memorializing an oral statement of a witness, in other words, tends to reveal the inner thoughts of an attorney, event if the document is prepared by an attorney.”

Hearn makes it clear the prosecution team, including K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, DOJ Consumer Protection Branch trial attorney Mary M. Englehart, and himself, is looking for statements the defendants made after the discovery of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak.
Previously, the government suggested the court order in camera review of the documents held by the two law firms. Now it says it is open to “alternative procedures,” including the appointment of a special master to review privilege logs.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three defendants continued Friday with Daniel W. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manger on the witness stand for the fourth day. Like former plant manager Samuel Lightsey, Kilgore has a plea agreement with the government and his testimony as a top PCA insider is likely going to be key to the prosecution’s case.

The trial adjourned on Day 24 for the long Labor Day Weekend. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. on Sept. 2nd to hear more testimony until 2 p.m. After that, at 2:30 p.m., Sands has scheduled a “Daubert” hearing for challenges to an un-named potential expert witness. Jurors will be excused for the day before that hearing begins.

Food Safety News

Government Narrows Scope of Subpoenas for PCA’s Past Corporate Attorneys

In response to the trial judge’s specific request, government attorneys have filed an additional response to a motion by former attorneys for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to quash a subpoena for information they hold, and here and there they’ve narrowed what they will call good enough.

Department of Justice trial attorney Patrick H. Hearn filed an 11-page memorandum requested by Judge W. Louis Sands within an imposed 7-day deadline. The memo defends the government’s subpoenas of two nationally known law firms, Atlanta-based Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Meagher & Geer, PLLP.

In moving to have those subpoenas quashed, the two law firms raised legal issues involving attorney-client and work product privilege that Sands did not think the government addressed in its first response.

The two law firms are so-called “non-parties” in the current criminal trial underway in Albany, GA where three former PCA executives have plead not guilty to a total of 71 federal felonies. The subpoenaed law firms do not represent any of the three defendants in the criminal trial, but did represent the now defunct corporate entity in civil and business matters.

In his “do-over” response, Hearn said the government is seeking “only those documents that reflect any verbatim or near verbatim statements by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, or Mary Wilkerson, concerning their work at PCA.”

Hearn says neither law firm ever represented any of the defendants as individuals. “Both represented the corporate entity PCA, “ he writes. “There is, therefore, no attorney-client privilege that attaches to any interactions between and amount the defendants and (the two law firms).

Weinberg Wheeler, which managed the PCA liquidation, signed the joint (criminal) defense agreement, an action that caused the government to limit its subpoena only to materials held prior to Feb. 11, 2009.

Hearn then goes on to argue that the government is not saying work product protections are waived, but to question whether they appropriately apply to materials requested.

The government memo also says it is seeking only “facts” and fact-based work product can be subjected to discovery. “Not every document memorializing an oral statement of a witness, in other words, tends to reveal the inner thoughts of an attorney, event if the document is prepared by an attorney.”

Hearn makes it clear the prosecution team, including K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, DOJ Consumer Protection Branch trial attorney Mary M. Englehart, and himself, is looking for statements the defendants made after the discovery of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak.
Previously, the government suggested the court order in camera review of the documents held by the two law firms. Now it says it is open to “alternative procedures,” including the appointment of a special master to review privilege logs.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three defendants continued Friday with Daniel W. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manger on the witness stand for the fourth day. Like former plant manager Samuel Lightsey, Kilgore has a plea agreement with the government and his testimony as a top PCA insider is likely going to be key to the prosecution’s case.

The trial adjourned on Day 24 for the long Labor Day Weekend. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. on Sept. 2nd to hear more testimony until 2 p.m. After that, at 2:30 p.m., Sands has scheduled a “Daubert” hearing for challenges to an un-named potential expert witness. Jurors will be excused for the day before that hearing begins.

Food Safety News

Government Narrows Scope of Subpoenas for PCA’s Past Corporate Attorneys

In response to the trial judge’s specific request, government attorneys have filed an additional response to a motion by former attorneys for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to quash a subpoena for information they hold, and here and there they’ve narrowed what they will call good enough.

Department of Justice trial attorney Patrick H. Hearn filed an 11-page memorandum requested by Judge W. Louis Sands within an imposed 7-day deadline. The memo defends the government’s subpoenas of two nationally known law firms, Atlanta-based Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Meagher & Geer, PLLP.

In moving to have those subpoenas quashed, the two law firms raised legal issues involving attorney-client and work product privilege that Sands did not think the government addressed in its first response.

The two law firms are so-called “non-parties” in the current criminal trial underway in Albany, GA where three former PCA executives have plead not guilty to a total of 71 federal felonies. The subpoenaed law firms do not represent any of the three defendants in the criminal trial, but did represent the now defunct corporate entity in civil and business matters.

In his “do-over” response, Hearn said the government is seeking “only those documents that reflect any verbatim or near verbatim statements by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, or Mary Wilkerson, concerning their work at PCA.”

Hearn says neither law firm ever represented any of the defendants as individuals. “Both represented the corporate entity PCA, “ he writes. “There is, therefore, no attorney-client privilege that attaches to any interactions between and amount the defendants and (the two law firms).

Weinberg Wheeler, which managed the PCA liquidation, signed the joint (criminal) defense agreement, an action that caused the government to limit its subpoena only to materials held prior to Feb. 11, 2009.

Hearn then goes on to argue that the government is not saying work product protections are waived, but to question whether they appropriately apply to materials requested.

The government memo also says it is seeking only “facts” and fact-based work product can be subjected to discovery. “Not every document memorializing an oral statement of a witness, in other words, tends to reveal the inner thoughts of an attorney, event if the document is prepared by an attorney.”

Hearn makes it clear the prosecution team, including K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, DOJ Consumer Protection Branch trial attorney Mary M. Englehart, and himself, is looking for statements the defendants made after the discovery of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak.
Previously, the government suggested the court order in camera review of the documents held by the two law firms. Now it says it is open to “alternative procedures,” including the appointment of a special master to review privilege logs.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three defendants continued Friday with Daniel W. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manger on the witness stand for the fourth day. Like former plant manager Samuel Lightsey, Kilgore has a plea agreement with the government and his testimony as a top PCA insider is likely going to be key to the prosecution’s case.

The trial adjourned on Day 24 for the long Labor Day Weekend. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. on Sept. 2nd to hear more testimony until 2 p.m. After that, at 2:30 p.m., Sands has scheduled a “Daubert” hearing for challenges to an un-named potential expert witness. Jurors will be excused for the day before that hearing begins.

Food Safety News

Government Narrows Scope of Subpoenas for PCA’s Past Corporate Attorneys

In response to the trial judge’s specific request, government attorneys have filed an additional response to a motion by former attorneys for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to quash a subpoena for information they hold, and here and there they’ve narrowed what they will call good enough.

Department of Justice trial attorney Patrick H. Hearn filed an 11-page memorandum requested by Judge W. Louis Sands within an imposed 7-day deadline. The memo defends the government’s subpoenas of two nationally known law firms, Atlanta-based Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Meagher & Geer, PLLP.

In moving to have those subpoenas quashed, the two law firms raised legal issues involving attorney-client and work product privilege that Sands did not think the government addressed in its first response.

The two law firms are so-called “non-parties” in the current criminal trial underway in Albany, GA where three former PCA executives have plead not guilty to a total of 71 federal felonies. The subpoenaed law firms do not represent any of the three defendants in the criminal trial, but did represent the now defunct corporate entity in civil and business matters.

In his “do-over” response, Hearn said the government is seeking “only those documents that reflect any verbatim or near verbatim statements by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, or Mary Wilkerson, concerning their work at PCA.”

Hearn says neither law firm ever represented any of the defendants as individuals. “Both represented the corporate entity PCA, “ he writes. “There is, therefore, no attorney-client privilege that attaches to any interactions between and amount the defendants and (the two law firms).

Weinberg Wheeler, which managed the PCA liquidation, signed the joint (criminal) defense agreement, an action that caused the government to limit its subpoena only to materials held prior to Feb. 11, 2009.

Hearn then goes on to argue that the government is not saying work product protections are waived, but to question whether they appropriately apply to materials requested.

The government memo also says it is seeking only “facts” and fact-based work product can be subjected to discovery. “Not every document memorializing an oral statement of a witness, in other words, tends to reveal the inner thoughts of an attorney, event if the document is prepared by an attorney.”

Hearn makes it clear the prosecution team, including K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, DOJ Consumer Protection Branch trial attorney Mary M. Englehart, and himself, is looking for statements the defendants made after the discovery of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak.
Previously, the government suggested the court order in camera review of the documents held by the two law firms. Now it says it is open to “alternative procedures,” including the appointment of a special master to review privilege logs.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three defendants continued Friday with Daniel W. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manger on the witness stand for the fourth day. Like former plant manager Samuel Lightsey, Kilgore has a plea agreement with the government and his testimony as a top PCA insider is likely going to be key to the prosecution’s case.

The trial adjourned on Day 24 for the long Labor Day Weekend. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. on Sept. 2nd to hear more testimony until 2 p.m. After that, at 2:30 p.m., Sands has scheduled a “Daubert” hearing for challenges to an un-named potential expert witness. Jurors will be excused for the day before that hearing begins.

Food Safety News

Government Narrows Scope of Subpoenas for PCA’s Past Corporate Attorneys

In response to the trial judge’s specific request, government attorneys have filed an additional response to a motion by former attorneys for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to quash a subpoena for information they hold, and here and there they’ve narrowed what they will call good enough.

Department of Justice trial attorney Patrick H. Hearn filed an 11-page memorandum requested by Judge W. Louis Sands within an imposed 7-day deadline. The memo defends the government’s subpoenas of two nationally known law firms, Atlanta-based Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Meagher & Geer, PLLP.

In moving to have those subpoenas quashed, the two law firms raised legal issues involving attorney-client and work product privilege that Sands did not think the government addressed in its first response.

The two law firms are so-called “non-parties” in the current criminal trial underway in Albany, GA where three former PCA executives have plead not guilty to a total of 71 federal felonies. The subpoenaed law firms do not represent any of the three defendants in the criminal trial, but did represent the now defunct corporate entity in civil and business matters.

In his “do-over” response, Hearn said the government is seeking “only those documents that reflect any verbatim or near verbatim statements by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, or Mary Wilkerson, concerning their work at PCA.”

Hearn says neither law firm ever represented any of the defendants as individuals. “Both represented the corporate entity PCA, “ he writes. “There is, therefore, no attorney-client privilege that attaches to any interactions between and amount the defendants and (the two law firms).

Weinberg Wheeler, which managed the PCA liquidation, signed the joint (criminal) defense agreement, an action that caused the government to limit its subpoena only to materials held prior to Feb. 11, 2009.

Hearn then goes on to argue that the government is not saying work product protections are waived, but to question whether they appropriately apply to materials requested.

The government memo also says it is seeking only “facts” and fact-based work product can be subjected to discovery. “Not every document memorializing an oral statement of a witness, in other words, tends to reveal the inner thoughts of an attorney, event if the document is prepared by an attorney.”

Hearn makes it clear the prosecution team, including K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, DOJ Consumer Protection Branch trial attorney Mary M. Englehart, and himself, is looking for statements the defendants made after the discovery of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak.
Previously, the government suggested the court order in camera review of the documents held by the two law firms. Now it says it is open to “alternative procedures,” including the appointment of a special master to review privilege logs.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three defendants continued Friday with Daniel W. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manger on the witness stand for the fourth day. Like former plant manager Samuel Lightsey, Kilgore has a plea agreement with the government and his testimony as a top PCA insider is likely going to be key to the prosecution’s case.

The trial adjourned on Day 24 for the long Labor Day Weekend. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. on Sept. 2nd to hear more testimony until 2 p.m. After that, at 2:30 p.m., Sands has scheduled a “Daubert” hearing for challenges to an un-named potential expert witness. Jurors will be excused for the day before that hearing begins.

Food Safety News

Government: Document Delivery Time Shouldn’t Halt PCA Trial

Ahead of today’s pre-trial hearing in the Peanut Corporation of American (PCA) criminal case, government attorneys took 20 pages to explain how they’ve done a good job of providing documents for the defense.

However, the defense team today wants U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands to focus on the timing of the latest discovery product — a hard drive containing 95,966 images or pages produced just two weeks before the jury trial scheduled to begin on Monday.

Athens, GA, attorney Edward D. Tolley, who represents defendant Michael Parnell, says that government attorneys have “not addressed the substance” of a joint defense motion calling upon Sands to dismiss the entire case over the late submission of the documents on the hard drive.

“The Government’s late discovery puts defense counsel in the untenable position of having less than two weeks to review at least 95,000 pages of new discovery while also preparing for trial of this case, and there, the ‘process’ of the trial is affected, i.e., the late production violates Due Process of Law pursuant to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and obviously affects ‘the assistance of counsel’ pursuant to the 6th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” Tolley writes.

In contrast, prosecutors assert that the government “has complied, is complying, and will comply with all its discovery obligations in these cases.” They charge that the defense team is taking a “dystopian view” of the state of discovery when just the opposite is the fact of the matter.

“This grim fiction, however, could not be further from the truth, “ writes K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. He contends that the government’s document submission to the defense has been “timely and comprehensive.”

While insisting the prosecution’s record on discovery is clean, the government’s trial team led by Dasher says it is ready to proceed with the trial on Monday, July 14.

“Indeed, the pressure for dismissal stems largely from Defendants’ refusal to consider whether they, independently of any action by the Government, need further time to prepare for trial,” Dasher’s response motion states.

Dasher said the government has fulfilled its obligations prior to trial, and the defense motion to dismiss the case should be denied. He says the court has plenty of other remedies if any discovery violations did occur.

Stewart Parnell, former chief executive officer of the now-defunct PCA; his brother Michael Parnell, a peanut broker, and Mary Wilkerson, quality control officer for the company’s Blakely, GA, plant are being tried in the case that began in 2013 with a 76-count federal felony indictment.

However, the government does not find another defense team remedy acceptable — excluding 26 witnesses from testifying, along with related evidence. In that instance, Dasher said the government would suffer “undue prejudice and irreparable harm.”

Among the witnesses the defense wants excluded from the trial is Dr. Ian Williams, one of the nation’s top food safety experts, who heads up multi-state outbreak investigations at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Sands has decided Stewart Parnell’s mental soundness is sufficient for the trial. The judge denied a government motion asking for the right to subject the top defendant to a mental evaluation. That motion had been hanging around ever since Parnell asked that his Virginia neuropsychologist be admitted as an expert witness to tell the jury about his alleged Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sands ruled June 24 that testimony from the ADHD expert witness was inadmissible.

Attorneys for defendants Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson also weighed in Thursday with reply briefs to the government.

“The Defendants do not seek to punish the government for its discovery abuses; rather, the Defendants seek an order of this Court to meaningfully remedy the due process violations that have already occurred and will continue to occur if relief is not provided,” they wrote.

“The government views the Defendants’ invocation of their constitutional rights as an affront to the government, because the government has seemingly forgotten that its mission is to ‘win its point whenever justice is done its citizens,’” they continued. “The Defendants in this case, no matter how much maligned by the government, Congress, and the press, are also the citizens to whom justice must be provided.”

The judge will hear arguments on the motion to dismiss the case at 10 a.m. Friday at the federal courthouse in Albany, GA.

Food Safety News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

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Supermarket News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

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Supermarket News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

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Supermarket News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

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Supermarket News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

NGA expands government relations staff

The National Grocers Association said it has added Chris Jones to its government relations department as senior manager of government relations.

Jones will oversee several issues, including banking, tax, data security and judiciary issues. He was formerly senior legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., with responsibilities for agriculture, tax, finance and transportation.

“The additional resources and skills Chris brings to our team will strengthen NGA’s ability to further public policy priorities on behalf of our members and the entire independent grocery industry,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA VP of public affairs.

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Supermarket News