This former assistant manager of the Plainview factory says when he found out a sister-plant in Georgia was being blamed for salmonella poisoning, he immediately suspected peanuts from the Plainview plant may also be tainted, and he knew he had to do something to keep consumers safe.
"I was flabbergasted that no one was looking at the Texas plant," Kenneth Kendrick of Lubbock says he spent all his free time in January, at least 70 hours worth, trying to get health officials to inspect the Plainview Peanut Plant. He had worked there as an assistant manager starting in 2006 so, he knew it was owned by the same company that owned the Georgia plant already linked to the salmonella outbreak ... The Peanut Corporation of America. Kendrick says, "It took an awful lot of effort to get someone's attention."
Kendrick says he knew there was reason for concern because he had seen with his own eyes the same conditions that were causing all the problems in Georgia. First, there was the leaky roof, that dropped water and bird feces into the building. "There are all sorts of contaminants that can come off a roof ... such as salmonella and potentially e-coli," he says. Then, there was the massive rodent problem. Kendrick says PCA owner Stewart Parnell was aware of what was going on, but he just didn't seem to care. He says, "When the auditor was there, he (Parnell) would say we would work on it. When the auditor was gone, it was we didn't have the money."
Kendrick says he tried to contact the Texas Department of Health back in 2006, but they ignored him and he gave up. He says being a whistle-blower now helps him deal with the guilt he feels for not doing enough back then. "We started on environmental sampling and had gotten things going and I just hoped it would continue when I left. Apparently, it did not. I was a little optimistic at the time in thinking that people would do the right thing," he says.
If you're interested in hearing more from Mr. Kendrick, including how he thinks his own family may have been poisoned by tainted peanuts, you should watch Good Morning America right here on KAMC 28 Monday morning.
Much more of this exclusive interview will be on during the show's first half-hour that's from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m, right here on KAMC 28.