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Court Asked to Shut Down Brooklyn Juice Company

Federal officials have gone to court to prevent a Brooklyn company from any further processing and distributing of its juice products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ), has asked for a permanent junction against Delores H. Campbell, Winston A. Fearon and their company Juices Incorporated, which is also known as Juices International and Juices Enterprises.

They are charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by failing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control (HACCP) plan for certain juice products, including the company’s carrot and beet juices.

The FDA regulations require all juice processors to have and implement HACCP plans that identify and control food hazards associated with their juices.

Among the violations observed by FDA investigators were failures to:

-adequately heat and refrigerate low-acid vegetable juices to destroy or prevent growth of dangerous microorganisms

-properly clean food-contact surfaces

-maintain plumbing in a manner that avoids a source of possible food and water contamination.

Failure to identify and control food hazards could lead to the formation of Clostridium botulinum (C. bot.) bacteria that can germinate in the carrot and beet juices made by the company. The neurotoxin formed by C. bot., when ingested in even very small amounts, could cause paralysis, difficulty breathing and potentially death from asphyxiation. 

In 2006, six cases of botulism in the United States and Canada were linked to refrigerated carrot juice. However, the FDA is not aware of illnesses associated with Juices Incorporated’s juice products.

The complaint also charges Juices Incorporated, Campbell and Fearon with failing to conform to current good manufacturing practice (GMP) requirements for making, packing, or holding human food. Juice products that are produced under conditions that do not comply with HACCP or GMP requirements are considered adulterated under the Act.

The FDA’s most recent inspection of the Juices facility in March 2010 found the same or similar violations observed during previous inspections of the company. The agency issued warning letters to the company in April 2008 and October 2009, and the company promised to bring its operations into compliance but did not make the necessary changes.

“Today’s action shows that FDA will seek enforcement action to make sure that those companies that must have preventative controls in place to ensure the safety of their products adhere to all applicable requirements,” said Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Dara A. Corrigan.

“Consumers must have a comfort level that the products they buy in their markets are safe to eat and to drink,” said Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “We will continue to act with the FDA to ensure that companies that produce food and juice under dangerous conditions take corrective action.”

The company purchases ingredients, such as carrots and beets, that originate outside of New York and sells products to food service establishments primarily in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Various violations involved the following brands: Double Trouble Carrot Punch, Carrot Juice Drink, Carrot & Ginger Drink, Beet Carrot Juice Drink, Agony Peanut Punch, Cashew Punch, and Irish Sea Moss. Other company products stored at the facility during FDA visits were: Front End Lifter Magnum Punch, Ginger Beer, Sorrell Drink, Pineapple Twist and Soursop Juice.

© Food Safety News
  • dangermaus

    I’d like to hear International Juice’s explanation of this (but not exclusively their side of it, of course). I realize that at some point we just have to trust the inspectors hired by the FDA to do their job, and that things are probably pretty much as presented, but after reading “Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal” it’s easy to see how an inspector that’s already got his/her mind made up about something to can almost arbitrarily make a judgement about a technical violation.
    Like:
    1. How long was the juice not refrigerated – was it for the 10 seconds it took to move it from the juicer to the cold storage area?
    2. Was there any food on the surface that wasn’t clean, or was the surface just used recently, hadn’t been cleaned yet, but would have been cleaned 10 minutes later?
    3. Was the plumbing issue a recently backed-up sink that was scheduled to be fixed the next day? Was it in use?
    4. What prompted this inspection? Did (just to pull a random juice brand out of the air) Libby drop the FDA an anonymous tip designed to hurt a local competitor?
    Obviously, I have no way of knowing what the conditions at that place were when the inspection occurred, so I’m definitely not accusing the FDA of misusing their authority. The inspector would probably LOVE to talk about the experience, too. Hopefully the judge in the case will see that those questions are answered.
    I’m just saying that this article presents the information in an entirely one-sided way, on a topic that lends itself to emotional reaction, especially when botulism is mentioned without any real connection to the company in question. If the violations listed are found out to be not justified, the company will still be out the legal fees it spent.

  • kai

    Hope this company opens back up. Can’t find good homemade ginger beer anywhere in the Bronx.