Coronet Foods closes; 220 lose their jobs

Adverse publicity from a salmonella outbreak has caused Wheeling WV-based Coronet Foods to shut down and put 220 employees out of work, even though United States Food and Drug Administration inspections revealed no evidence of the bacteria at the produce company.

The FDA, which conducted lab tests and interviews with people who became ill after eating sandwiches from Sheetz convenience stores, believes the salmonella carrier was Roma tomatoes delivered to those stores. About 400 people in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland became ill.

Coronet served as the supplier for Sheetz, though the source of the tomatoes' contamination remains unknown. After the salmonella outbreak, Sheetz ended its relationship with Coronet, and the firm's sales dropped 40%. Coronet had sold vegetables, fruits, and bagged salads in 20 states.

Despite the firm's closing, three lawsuits by people sickened in the outbreak are targeting Coronet and will proceed.

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