Congressional representatives Wednesday saw slide show images of Army veteran Clifford Tousignant in life surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
Tousignant, 78, died in Brainerd on Jan. 12 after suffering from salmonella poisoning. He was one of three people whose deaths in Brainerd have been linked to the national salmonella food poisoning outbreak. The other Brainerd victims were Doris Flatgard and Shirley Mae Almer.
Tousignant was awarded the Purple Heart three times during his Korean War service as a result of gunshot and shrapnel injuries. At the end of the slide show, a frame stated: "Clifford Tousignant survived the Korean War and was killed by eating peanut butter."
Marshall Tousignant watched part of the testimony relating to his father's death from his VA hospital room in St. Cloud where he is recovering from knee surgery. His brother Lou, St. Louis Park, testified before the House. His brother Paul and brother-in-law Dan Herrick also attended.
Tousignant spoke to his brother Lou after the hearing.
"I just told him he did a good job," Tousignant said. The families were allotted five minutes for their testimony. "One thing this has done - my dad's death - has brought us all closer as brothers and sisters. My dad would love to see that."
Jeffrey Almer also testified Wednesday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Almer has formed a nonprofit food safety advocacy group called Safe Tables Our Priority. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted excerpts from emotional testimony from Almer and Lou Tousignant.
"Cancer couldn't claim her but peanut butter did," Almer said. "Our family feels cheated. My mom should be with us today."
"My father was a good man," Lou Tousignant said. "He faithfully served his country. My father died because he ate peanut butter."
Marshall Tousignant said he was disappointed the Peanut Corp. of America officials didn't take responsibility for what they did. But he was glad to hear an elected official told company executives if they were proven guilty not testifying wouldn't save them from justice.
"I don't understand how does he go to sleep at night without regrets," Tousignant said of Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell. "Too bad the guy doesn't have a conscience."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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