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Tyson: FDA Letter Left Wrong Impression

Tyson Foods Inc.  says a Warning Letter it received in November from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made some erroneous conclusions.

“Contrary to the impression left by the FDA letter, our Fort Worth plant is clean and sanitary and the products produced there are safe to eat,” Tyson said in a statement provided to Food Safety News.  “In fact, in addition to FDA oversight, there is a USDA inspector in the facility every day of production.

“We believe this is really a documentation issue involving the plant’s written food safety plan.  FDA wanted us to document an existing temperature control procedure for thawing seafood used in some of our soups as a critical control point in our Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan.  We have implemented this documentation change.

“In addition, the shrimp and crab meat FDA investigators observed being thawed at the plant was discarded and not used.

“Our Fort Worth plant is not a seafood facility.  It is a prepared foods operation involved in producing soups, sauces and side dishes.”

The recent Nov. 13th “Warning Letter” to Tyson Chairman John H. Tyson, and former Interim President and CEO Leland E. Tollett referred to the Fort Worth plant as a “seafood soup manufacturing facility.”  It alleged that the shrimp and crabmeat that inspectors observed to be thawing was going to be used in seafood gumbo.

Based on an Aug. 19-21 inspection, FDA determined a “significant” potential food safety hazard exists at the plant.  FDA said Tyson’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan lacks a plan for seafood soups and sauces that takes into account pathogen growth and toxic formation, specifically for Clostridium botulinum.

Tyson notified FDA by e-mail on Sept. 9th that the shrimp and crabmeat observed during the inspection was being discarded.  Tyson also has new standard operating procedures for thawing, but FDA said it wouldn’t be satisfied until such procedures are included in the HACCP plan.

Reynaldo R. Rodriguez, Jr., FDA’s Dallas District Director, sent the letter to Tyson. Once FDA issues a “Warning Letter,” the party on the receiving end has 15 working days to respond with details on how they are going to comply.

Springdale, AR-based Tyson Foods Inc. is the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500.  With 107,000 employees, Tyson’s is active in more than 90 countries around the world.

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