Kenneth Kendrick, whose warnings went unheeded about the potential for contamination at peanut processing plants in Plainview, TX, and Portales, NM, has filed papers to become the Texas Green Party candidate for Agriculture Commissioner for the Lone Star State.
Kendrick once worked for the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America, which ran a peanut processing plant at Plainview, and, on occasion, purchased peanuts from Sunland, about 100 miles west in Portales.
PCA went bankrupt after the 2008-2009 nationwide salmonella outbreak killed nine people and sickened about 700. Four of its top executives are scheduled to go to trial early next year on a total of 76 federal felony counts related to the outbreak.
Sunland filed for bankruptcy more recently following a separate 2012 outbreak traced back to peanut butters it made. Some say it’s possible that, if Kendrick’s information had been more thoroughly investigated, both outbreaks might have been avoided.
(Sidebar: There are a couple of thin threads linking me to the PCA salmonella outbreak from five years ago. Astute Brains readers may remember that I spent the mid-to-late '80s working for the Plainview Daily Herald. Peanut Corporation of America came to town long after I left; they took over the old Jimmy Dean sausage facility there in 2005. And the DSHS Council, which oversees the department, has as its vice chair my former podiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Ross. He has made many financial contributions to Republicans in Texas and across the nation; I wrote about my experience with Dr. Ross in 2004 here.)
The Texas Department of State Health Services is still led today by Dr. David Lakey, who was appointed commissioner of the agency in 2006 by Governor Rick Perry.
Kendrick has kept the story in the public eye of the failure of the Texas DSHS -- and the Bush administration FDA -- to inspect the Plainview facility, or even respond to warnings that led to the peanut poisonings. He's made several public speaking appearances and given many media interviews. Via the Food Integrity Campaign, here's Kendrick speaking from 2011.
Kendrick is the highest-profile Texas Green candidate so far. Here's to many more, as we close in on next Monday's filing deadline for the 2014 elections.