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Virgin Islands Juice Operation Needs Attention

The juice processing facility operated by St. Thomas Dairies in the Virgin Islands of the United States is violating important food safety regulations.

A Sept. 25 warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Trans-Caribbean Dairy Corporation, which owns St. Thomas Dairies, said the fruit juice maker has “serious deviations” from Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.

The FDA warning letter also said St. Thomas Dairies was not doing a sufficient job of complying with good manufacturing process regulations.  An FDA inspection team on June 30 and July 1 found:

-Pooled dirty water on the lid of juice concentrate and juice bases in plastic containers stored in the juice and egg cooler.

-Dust, grease and debris was accumulating on the housing of a filling machine that holds the plastic roll used to form the pouch or plastic containers for juice.

-Dust was accumulating on the surface of the plastic sleeve type ventilation channel suspended over the processing equipment in the processing room.

-Ice accumulation, water leaks, and condensation drippings were found on the storage freezers and coolers.

FDA said all of its inspection observations point to a company that is not monitoring the protection of food, food packaging material, and food contact surfaced from adulteration with sufficient frequency.

The record keeping that a juice HACCP plan requires was lacking at St. Thomas Dairies, according to FDA.

“However, your firm did not record monitoring observations at the Pasteurization critical control point to control the pathogen hazard listed in you HACCP plan for 100 percent juices, such as pineapple, apple, grape, orange, and orange pineapple from concentrate,” the warning letter said.

“Specifically, your HACCP plan states that you will record the flow rate of your pasteurizer,” it continued.  “However, there are no records showing you have ever performed this monitoring procedure.”

As a result of these finding, FDA said the Trans-Caribbean pineapple, apple, grape, orange, and orange pineapple juices “are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

FDA has jurisdiction in the U.S. Virgin Islands because they are territories of the United States.  As a domestic company, Trans-Caribbean was asked to respond within 15 working days with information on how it is going to correct the violations.

© Food Safety News
  • Priscilla Hintz

    A miss leading report…
    What you report did not say is that the FDA letter was dated September 25, 2009 referring to an inspection June 30 and July 1, 2009. If the FDA concluded any products were unsafe they certainly would not have waited nearly 3 months to issue the warning letter.
    The alleged discrepancies were all corrected; most of them before the letter was received. On October 22, 2009, Fred Hintz advised the FDA of corrective measures that had been taken. One item remained unresolved that involved certain tests on pasteurization equipment that is normally done by local health authorities, but is never done in St. Thomas. Fred Hintz and Priscilla Hintz met with FDA officials in San Juan on December 28, 2009 to determine exactly what would be acceptable to the FDA. This test was performed by Control Instrument Service of Puerto Rico on January 4, 2010.
    The FDA was provided the results on January 5, 2010. We received a letter from the FDA dated February 12, 2010 stating “We have reviewed your response and the information provided satisfactorily addresses the violations cited in the Warning Letter.”
    All St. Thomas Dairies products are, and always have been, safe and wholesome. We have always tried to comply with all sanitary, health, safety and environmental regulations. We react promptly to discrepancies that are pointed out to us.
    We would like to know why you are reporting an incident that occurred over one year ago as if it were a current issue.