This site respects your privacy. GAP will not record your IP address or browser information. A detailed privacy statement can be found here.
Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Did Food Producer Knowingly Send Out Contaminated Product?

, March 10, 2010

In a case reminiscient of the Peanut Corporation of America food safety scandal in 2008, it has been revealed that a flavor additive manufacturer knew its plant equipment was contaminated with salmonella, but continued to ship its food out, apparently without making any changes to the line to address the situation.

After discovering salmonella in a shipment from Basic Food Flavors, a foodmaker alerted the FDA in early February. In a visit to the plant days later, the FDA documented "dirty utensils and equipment -- mixers and tubing coated with brown residue -- and cracks and fractures in the floor, as well as standing water on the floor -- all conditions where bacteria can breed." Furthermore:

In one area where paste mixers and belt dryers were positioned, FDA inspectors noted "standing, grey/black liquid" in the drain near the area where the hydrolyzed vegetable protein was turned from paste to powder. "We sensed an odor in the vicinity of this drain," the inspectors wrote.

Basic Food Flavors produces about 20 million pounds of the food additive per year. Many foodmakers who bought the additive then sold their products to other clients. So far, food companies have recalled more than 100 products and that amount is expected to continue rising. To view the list of recalled products, click here.

Just to remind, the Peanut Corporation of America scandal involved plant managers shipping out products previously deemed to be contaminated with food-borne illness (that case results in mass sicknesses, and some deaths):

The outbreak was traced to the company's peanut plant in Blakely, Ga., where Food and Drug Administration inspectors found roaches and mold while trying to figure out the source of the salmonella. In one e-mail from Stewart Parnell, the head of the Virginia-based company, he said his workers "desperately at least need to turn the raw peanuts on our floor into money." In another exchange, he told his plant manager to "turn them loose" after products once deemed contaminated were cleared in a second test. (ABC News)