Peanut Corp. of America, the peanut processing company implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people and may have led to nine deaths, filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, the Associated Press reported.
The salmonella outbreak has been traced to the company's plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold and a leaking roof. A second plant in Texas was closed this week after initial tests revealed possible salmonella contamination, the news service said.
The Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; a Chapter 7 filing allows for an orderly sale of a company's assets to pay creditors, the AP said.
The federal government has launched a criminal investigation into the case, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed. Peanut Corp.'s president, Stewart Parnell, was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before a Congressional committee investigating the outbreak, but he refused to answer questions, invoking his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. Company e-mails have surfaced, showing he ordered tainted products to be shipped anyway, the AP said.
Despite the headlines generated by the outbreak, many Americans aren't clear about which 1,900 products have been recalled in the nationwide outbreak, a Harvard survey of 1,300 adults released Friday has found.
About one in four respondents mistakenly believes that major peanut butter brands are included in the recall, while fewer than half know that snack bars, baked goods, ice cream and dry-roasted peanuts are among the products being recalled, the AP said.
"A lot of people have taken some precautions but they're not looking at the ingredients in products not related to peanut butter," said survey director Robert Blendon, a health policy professor.
The survey, taken last week, also found that:
* About 93 percent know about the outbreak and most know that it was caused by salmonella bacteria.
* Only one in three has a good or great amount of confidence in food makers or government inspectors to keep food safe.