"We credit him with going back to the plant and finding the crawl space where the rats were living. There is absolutely no fault being placed on him."
That’s what Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, has to say about the state inspector, who claims he knew nothing about the existence of the Peanut Corporation of America processing plant in Plainview, Texas that operated without a state license or any inspections for four years.
"We’re not going to fire the inspector, because we think he’s doing a good job," McBride said of the state worker responsible for inspecting about 700 food-related companies in 52 counties of the Panhandle and West Texas.
In a story examining how this happened, reporter Sherry Jacobson writes in the Dallas Morning News that:
The plant sat alongside a major north-south highway at one of the busiest locations in town – across from a massive Wal-Mart distribution center. Thousands of people drove in and out of the center daily.
The company’s name was emblazoned on no fewer than four signs out front, including a billboard bearing a picture of a peanut. But apparently nobody thought to tell the state to come and inspect it, city officials said.
Jacobson also reports that flavored peanuts were processed in Plainview and shipped to Georgia may be responsible for the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has sickened 666 and killed nine in 45 states and Canada.
Check out the rest of the "only in Texas" story here.