The Peanut Corporation of America followed the Ten Commandments of Damage Control, says editor Dan Malovany.

The 10 Commandments

Thou shalt deny everything.
    “Whoa! Hey guys. It didn’t happen that way.”
    PCA claimed its Blakely, Ga., facility didn’t conduct multiple microbiological tests on samples after the initial one tested positive for salmonella, as the Food and Drug Administration alleges. However, the FDA says, it happened that way again and again. A dozen times, according to some reports.
    Thou shalt say “stuff happens.”
    “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a little paperwork issue. An innocent misunderstanding.”
    Then the feds discovered that PCA shipped out products that tested positive for salmonella even before a subsequent test was completed.
    Thou shalt conduct its own internal investigation.
    “Of course, we’re looking into it. Hee, hee! Seriously.”
    Next, the FBI raided its headquarters and the Blakely plant.
    Thou shalt not comment.
    “Yeah, we’d love to give you the full story, but, gosh darn! We can’t. It’s an ongoing investigation. I hope you understand.”
    Actually, the real investigation by the Justice Department, the Center for Disease Control and dozens of plaintiff attorneys across the nation has just begun.
    Thou shalt pretend to cooperate.
    “Uh, we’d like to announce that we are voluntarily closing our Texas facility, and not because there is anything wrong. It’s just because we want you to think we’re doing the right thing.”
    Published reports are suggesting that the company’s actions may be criminal.
    Thou shalt develop the Sgt. Schultz defense.
    “Oh yeah, right. We decided to close the Texas plant … just in case, because maybe or maybe not it was inspected correctly … not at all. Who said that? I know nothing!”
    Expect more charges to be filed as experts conduct forensic tests and additional evidence emerges.
    Thou shalt blame the victims.
    “If it’s as bad as you say it is, perhaps someone we know was saving some money by outsourcing, uh huh, uh huh!”
    And then, Congress got involved, which provided a golden opportunity for PCA to say nothing.
    Thou shalt call for reforms.
    “You know, we may have made our share of mistakes, but the bottom line is that the system is at fault.     Simply put, the FDA needs an old-fashioned butt-kickin’. We need to set up a task force to develop new laws, tighten regulations and throw billions of dollars at this problem over the next five years.”
    In the end, PCA threw in the towel, but you’ll never know what will happen next.
    Thou shalt change the name of thy company and disavow everything from the past.
    “We’re the new Peanut Company of America. We have a new owner, a new board, a new president, a new PR agency run by Muffy. Ain’t she cute … and looky here! A new product for you to try.”
    If this were China, none of this mess would have happened. There would be a quick trial, and those involved would be sentenced to death.
    Then again, that’s way too complicated. I say we should hire a guy I know. His name is Sal Monella. His commandment is Thou shalt not kill.
    Sure, Sal was never one to listen to his own advice, but he gets results in the end.

Dan Malovany, editor

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