Former peanut executive receives long prison term in Salmonella case

The former owner of Peanut Corp. of America was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a 2008 Salmonella outbreak that claimed nine lives and sickened 714 across 46 states.

Stewart Parnell, 61, was convicted in 2014 on 72 counts of fraud, conspiracy and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. His sentencing on Sept. 21 represents the longest prison term ever levied upon an executive in a food poisoning case.

Also receiving prison terms were his brother, Michael Parnell, a food broker, who received 20 years, and Mary Wilkerson, a quality-assurance manager at the plant in Blakely, GA, who received a five-year term.

During testimony at the trial last year, jurors heard evidence of unsanitary conditions at the plant, including roaches, rodents, bird droppings and a leaky roof. Email, lab and financial records introduced into evidence revealed that Stewart Parnell was aware of the conditions but wrote, “Just ship it” in an email to a manager in 2007. Additionally, in some cases, product was shipped the same day it was processed instead of being held for lab tests, and records were falsified to show that outgoing batches tested negative for Salmonella.

Marsh Supermarkets partnership a boon for in-state produce

Marsh Supermarkets has been named as a major in-store retail partner for the Indiana Grown Initiative. The partnership will continue to make it easier to identify, find and purchase locally sourced products with the launch of 50 kiosks selling 100 Indiana Grown products in Marsh stores throughout Indiana.indiana

“We welcome Marsh Supermarkets as a major retail partner of Indiana Grown to increase visibility of Indiana Grown products and to encourage Indiana consumers to buy local,” Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said in a press release. “Marsh has been a strong supporter of the Indiana Grown Initiative from the very beginning of the project and was eager to join us in connecting consumers with Indiana-grown businesses around the state. We look forward to Marsh playing an integral role in the continued success of Indiana Grown.”

With the help of its retail partners, Indiana Grown will create new local and regional market channels for Indiana agricultural and food businesses by educating consumers on the importance of buying Indiana Grown products, increasing networking and sales opportunities for Indiana farmers, and expanding support for Indiana processors in their efforts with Indiana Grown products.

“As Indiana’s homegrown grocer since 1931, Marsh is committed to Indiana Grown’s mission to move locally sourced products from farm to table through store sales and promotional efforts,” Tom O’Boyle, chief executive officer and president of Marsh Supermarkets, said in the press release.

Beyond the Indiana Grown kiosks, consumers can find additional Indiana Grown-branded products throughout the store, which will be identified through bib tags and shelf talkers with the Indiana Grown logo as well as on many products carrying the Marsh Supermarkets label.

Indiana Grown is managed by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and backed by some of Indiana’s most prominent names in the industry. It is the first statewide, all-inclusive and collaborative program to promote Indiana-produced agricultural products.

September's job openings in fresh produce, food and agriculture

Produce Careers is recruiting on several new open positions in the fresh produce, food processing and agriculture sectors. The latest active career opportunities are listed below for review, networking and sharing.

Eastern Regional Equipment Sales Executive - Remote/Home office within the Eastern U.S.

  • A respected equipment and packaging supplier needs an experienced sales pro to develop new business within the Eastern U.S.

Organic Sales Representative - California's Central Coast

  • A well-known and respected Organic grower/shipper/importer seeks new talent for F.O.B and retail program sales

Regional Produce Sales Manager - Dallas Area

  • Strong, growing produce company has two home-based opportunity needing produce sales and business development experience

Sales and Product Development Manager - South Carolina

  • Sales management role along with new product development, seeking solid produce experience

Produce Sales Account Executive - Apple Category - Los Angeles, CA Area
Produce Sales Account Executive - Berry Category - Los Angeles, CA Area

  • Seek two sales pros — one well versed in the apple category, the other in the berry category
  • Must know grower relations, sourcing, and sales to retail and wholesale customers
  • Company has expanded its facilities, has multiple services and products, and a great rep.

Account Manager - East Coast

  • Seeking produce sales expert who sells to retail grocery chains on the East Coast
  • Prefer candidates in BOSTON AREA, but potentially open to home office situation
  • Top grower/shipper/importer; category leader; national brand; on strong growth curve; great industry rep.

Sales Account Executive - Ventura County, CA

  • Well-established fruit grower/shipper/packer seeks solid F.O.B. produce salesperson
  • Great location: commutable from Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Valencia, north San Fernando Valley

QA Manager - Ventura County, California

  • This QA Manager role is with a strong global company
  • 5-7 yrs. experience needed SQF knowledge preferred

QA Manager - Central Coast of California

  • QA Supervisor role is located in SLO County and is with a global food production company and this role will move into a Manager role

QA Manager - Oxnard, California

  • Industry leading company with proven ability to be a strategic business partner
  • Manufacturing or agriculture environment experience

Director VP of Human Resources - California

  • Senior level HR experience with union experience needed, strong compensation program available

Maintenance Manager - Central Coast, California

  • Maintenance professional needed for strong produce company, experience managing and experience with refrigerated systems needed

Senior Cost Accountant - Oxnard, California

  • Established agriculture company. Minimum 4 years cost accounting experience within a manufacturing environment

Director of Warehousing - Shipping and Logistics - Central Coast California

  • Established, growing company seeking senior level warehousing, shipping and logistics experience

Director of Logistics - Oxnard, California

  • Newly created position for this industry leading agriculture company
  • Minimum 10 years management experience

Warehouse Manager - Los Angeles, CA Area

  • Seeking experience with: cold storage environments; perishable food (preferably produce); import product and documentation; inventory; food safety. Bilingual (English-Spanish) preferred

Full Job Listings Page

For more information contact Produce Careers at 805/481.3200 x10 or

Stemilt’s Piñata apple stars at Meet the Grower dinner

Stemilt’s signature apple variety, Piñata, was the star ingredient on Seattle chef Ericka Burke’s menu during Stemilt’s first-ever Meet the Grower blogger dinner held on Sept. 17 at Beecher’s Loft overlooking Pike Place Market and the waterfront in Seattle. The event brought 12 popular food bloggers together for an evening of food and conversation around the multi-generational family-owned fruit company and its many proprietary products and programs.Roger-talks-to-bloggersStemilt Marketing Director Roger Pepperl talking to bloggers at the company's first-ever Meet the Grower blogger dinner.

Held on the eve of the start of the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, the dinner began with a warm welcome from Stemilt Marketing Director Roger Pepperl and Tate Mathison, fifth-generation grower and director of sales. Mathison shared a bit about his family’s rich farming history in Washington state and the innovative varieties and products the company has been bringing to market over the past several years.

The group then settled down for a dinner featuring the flavors of Stemilt’s recently harvested Piñata apples and Rushing Rivers pears. Prepared by Chef Ericka of Seattle’s Volunteer Park Cafe, Chop Shop Cafe & Bar, Canal Market, guests enjoyed a four-course menu that included a red pear and heirloom cucumber salad, roasted butternut squash and Bartlett pear bisque, pork tenderloin with celeriac puree, white chanterelle mushrooms and candied Piñata apple-fennel salad, and a Piñata apple pie with brown butter ice cream for dessert.

Among the blogger attendees were Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven, a blog devoted to real food recipes for the everyday family; Lynne Feifer of 365 Days of Baking and More, a Phoenix-based blogger who shares everyday recipes; and Holly Nilsson of Spend with Pennies, a blog featuring comforting family recipes, household tips and more. Throughout the dinner, bloggers turned to social media to document their dining experience with Stemilt by using the hashtag #stemiltfruit and the company’s social media handles.

“The Meet the Grower dinner was a continuation of our work in connecting our proprietary products, like Piñata apples, with influencers in the food world,” Pepperl said in a press release. “It was a great evening filled with excellent food and conversation about farming, Stemilt and up-and-coming, consumer-favorite varieties like Piñata apples. We enjoyed helping these well-known bloggers kick off their weekend in Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference and sharing with them the passion our company has for growing wholesome and flavor-first fruits.”

The Meet the Grower blogger dinner also helped kick off the new season of Piñata apples, which are coming off the tree now in Washington state and expected to be available in November. First introduced to the U.S. and Canadian marketplaces back in 2009, Piñata is Stemilt’s exclusive apple variety and available from November to May each year. The apple was bred in Germany in the 1970s and is a cross between Golden Delicious and two heirloom varieties, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg. The fruit’s thin skin and unique sweet-tart-tropical flavor profile make it a great choice for fresh eating, but as Chef Ericka discovered, Piñata apples are also a standout in any culinary dish.

“This was my first time tasting and cooking with Piñata apples and I was totally impressed," she said. "The fruit has a unique flavor profile and tropical essence that stands out, and I love that it’s grown in the Northwest. Piñata is going to be one of my go-to apples to use in the kitchen.”

ACME, Stop & Shop reduce A&P purchases

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.'s sale of 70 stores to Acme Markets Inc. and 24 stores to Stop & Shop went through the morning of Sept. 21. While both Acme and Stop & Shop previously announced plans to purchase a greater number of locations, the sale of these stores is expected to save nearly 11,000 employees' jobs.AP

Acme Markets originally entered into an agreement to acquire 76 A&P stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Of the six locations it will no longer purchase, four operate under the A&P banner and two operate under the company's Superfresh banner. This will drop the purchase price from $255.7 million to $243.1 million.

In addition, Ahold's Stop & Shop division was initially going to acquire 25 of the A&P stores in Greater New York for $146 million; however, that has been reduced to 24 locations and roughly $127 million.

Key Food Stores Co-op Inc. is still expected to purchase 17 stores, but that deal has been delayed.

Once the largest U.S. supermarket chain with more than 15,000 stores, A&P filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 19. At the time the company announced plans to sell 118 stores and close an additional 25; however, it is expected to sell all remaining stores at auction Oct. 1 and Oct. 2.