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Retesting at peanut plant wasn't proper, lab director says

If one negative result was found, the batch should have been discarded, not retested, he says.

January 30, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A lab company president called to testify before Congress in the salmonella outbreak investigation said Thursday that manufacturers "can't retest away a positive result."

Charles T. Deibel, whose labs conducted tests for Peanut Corp. of America, said that if 100 containers are tested and one or two turn up salmonella, the company should "throw the whole lot out."

Federal health officials say Peanut Corp. shipped tainted peanut products from its Blakely, Ga., facility after retesting them and getting a negative result for salmonella.

Peanut butter, peanut paste and other goods from the plant are being blamed for an outbreak that has sickened more than 500 people, triggered a huge international recall and raised doubts about food industry safety.

Deibel said his company -- Deibel Labs Inc. -- did not conduct day-to-day testing for the plant but was asked on occasion to carry out certain tests. He said his company has turned over bacterial cultures to federal investigators.

Peanut Corp., based in Lynchburg, Va., said in a statement that it "categorically denies any allegations that the company sought favorable results from any lab in order to ship its products."

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