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Food Safety News

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Texas Goes After Unlicensed Food Manufacturers

Texas has a whole bunch of unlicensed food manufacturing businesses in it.

Since early 2009 when it was disclosed that the Peanut Corporation of America processing plant in Plainview, TX was operating without the benefit of a license, many have wondered how many others might be going without in the Lone Star State.

Only after a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that killed nine among 700 who were infected did Texas learn that the Plainview peanut processing plant had been operating under the radar without licenses or inspections.

Along with a plant located in Blakely, GA, the contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by Peanut Corporation was mostly sold to other companies as ingredients in some 4,000 products that had to be recalled.

Texas fined Peanut Corporation $14.6 million, one of the highest fines in the history of the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The now defunct Peanut Corporation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and Texas has not seen a cent of the fine.

The department did, however, go on the hunt for unlicensed food manufacturers.  Its problem has always been that it is spread thin over a very large state.   Texas has 37 inspectors for the 24,000 food manufacturers it regulates.

And seven of those positions are vacant due to the current hiring freeze in state government.

Still, under some legislative pressure, State Health Services stirred some other Texas bases and came up with a list of 520 companies suspected of being in the food manufacturing business without a license.

It scrubbed the list before settling on 355 businesses.

House-Autry Mills, which makes corn meal and cooking batter sold in 8,000 in 28 states, was one of the larger concerns operating without a license, the Dallas Morning News reported.

When it moved to Texas, no one told it that a license was required, a spokesman told the Morning News.

Other business owners said they thought they were too small to be required to get a license.

Texas has either issued licenses and inspected 185 businesses on the list or resolved their status in some other way.  It is working through the remainder at a rate of about 20 per month.  It has focused on the larger operations first.

Texas charges $104 to $1,731 for an annual license fee, depending on the gross annual revenue of the business.  Once licensed, periodic state inspections are required.

© Food Safety News
  • Cameron Aujuard

    This “again” is what happens when you have a president from TEXAS who deregulates every thing he breaths, touches, smells, tastes and feels. A state as large as Texas with 30 inspectors think about it. There are a little more than 3000 REHS’s in california alone and theres not enough of us to cover the state completely, along with our state inspectors with that. I really do believe that the fed needs to create a inspection force to assist local / state health depts like the conservation corps, so this lapse in inspections does’nt keep occuring. Yes, this is another area where we need “governmental involvement”, because apparently the locals and state folks can’t get it together to protect their fellow citizens. What about Alaska ? it too is a large state, and “don’t we know” who hales from there ? Miss “super hockey mom” the moose hunter.

  • Nat

    Cameron,
    You think the POTUS should be responsible for “unlicensed” food manufacturers. (Or were you just looking for a reason to blame Bush?) Good GRIEF you can’t really expect the government to regulate EVERYTHING.?! Do you really think that certificate on the wall prevents anything?
    I’ve seen PLENTY of things in the kitchens and pantries of 5 Star and other well known Name Brand places that you would think should sicken anyone.
    Don’t wanna take chances, wash your food, cook everything well done & eat at home!

  • Jimbo

    Check Cameron’s resume on Linkdin. This guy has had about a million jobs, all government. He is a typical leftist, more and more government, less and less freedom. What a clown. Sarah Palin would have him for lunch in a debate even though he can take snide potshots at her on websites like this.