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ConAgra braces itself over peanut butter outbreak charges

ConAgra's Peter Pan peanut butter

ConAgra has said it is ‘likely’ it will be hit with a federal misdemeanour charge over a Salmonella outbreak from peanut butter seven years ago.

The firm said among the matters outstanding during fiscal 2014 is an investigation by the US Attorney's office in Georgia and the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice.

During fiscal 2013 and 2012, the firm recognized charges of $7.5m and $17.5m, respectively in relation to the incident.

ConAgra Foods manufactured tainted Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter causing a nationwide recall in 2007. The jars were contaminated by a mixture of dormant Salmonella bacteria and a roof leak at its Sylvester, Georgia site.

425 people were sickened with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Tennessee from 44 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We have been and continue to be engaged in ongoing discussions with the US Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice in regard to the investigation,” according to a SEC filing by the firm.

“We are pursuing a negotiated resolution, which we believe will likely involve a misdemeanor criminal disposition under the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act.

“During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, we reduced our accrual by $6.7m in connection with ongoing discussions with the US Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice in regard to the investigation.

“After taking into account liabilities recorded for these matters, we believe the ultimate resolution of this matter should not have a material adverse effect on our financial conditions, results of operations, or liquidity. “

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