Published on: September 28, 2015by Kevin Coupe
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has a provocative - and timely - piece that compares the salmonella outbreak caused by deliberate food safety malpractice committed by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) and its CEO, Stewart Parnell, with the safety problems created by faulty ignition switches installed in a number of cars made by divisions of General Motors.
PCA is out of business, and Parnell has been sentenced to 28 years in prison; General Motors, while agreeing to "a $900 million fine and a three-year deferred prosecution agreement," has seen none of its executives indicted or even prosecuted.
Here's the question that Nocera poses:
"How is it possible that the executive of a company whose product killed nine people gets a lengthy jail sentence yet the executives of a company whose product killed 124 people get off scot free?"
There are a number of answers to this question. One has to do with criminal intent. And there's also the way that PCA was prosecuted, using fraud laws instead of food safety laws.
But it is column worth taking a look at, in part because federal officials seem to believe something that Nocera writes, that prosecuting corporate executives is "the single most powerful deterrent imaginable — far more powerful than a fine, which is meaningless to a company like G.M."
And that's important, since the food industry is facing new regulations that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which will, among other things, put industry c-level executives on the spot if their companies do not meet the higher bar that the federal government is setting.
You can read the Nocera column here.
It is an Eye-Opener.
- KC's View: