A former employee at the factory at the center of a U.S. peanut product recall said he saw rat droppings and a rat dry-roasting in a peanut area.
Jonathan Prather is one of 50 who lost his job last month after the controversial Peanut Corporation of America shut down its plant in Blakely, Georgia.
The factory was closed after eight people died and 500 were injured as a result of a salmonella outbreak. Contaminated peanut paste was the culprit and many products containing the paste have been recalled.
Prather told the CBS Early show the plant suffered from very poor sanitary conditions. He said he saw roaches and rats inside the factory:
Roaches get up there in the dry roast. Some of them blend in with the peanuts. You'd never know they're there."
After the salmonella outbreak, Prather said health inspectors also saw roaches in the building and in the washrooms.
About three months ago, Prather says he saw a rat dry roasting in the peanuts in the machines. He also says he repeatedly saw rat droppings in the area in which he worked.
Prather said rats gained entry into the building through holes in the exterior. He said there were also leaky roofs that the owners neglected.
The health inspectors also saw mold in some of the areas, as well as mops that were cleaned in the same area as production equipment.
CBS correspondent Jeff Glor says any of these areas might be the source of salmonella. Glor said the company failed to report these problems to federal authorities.
Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner David Kessler also blames the archaic rules of the FDA, saying they are not proactive as far as food safety is concerned. He told CBS:
"Regrettably, (the FDA) lacks the authority (to properly oversee the safety of the nation's food). But there are several key bills in the Senate and the House, and they're excellent bills... The problem is we don't have a system of preventive controls. We're always reacting in this country. It's always chasing the horse after it's out of the barn."
He hopes the new president will improve the FDA rules.