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Mold, Insects Found at PA Canning Factory

Mold, maggots and flies were found during a federal inspection of a Pennsylvania canning factory.

In a Feb. 2 warning letter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) details multiple problems at Furman Foods Inc., which cans products like Rally’s Chili and Furmano’s Dark Red Kidney Beans.

FDA said the acidified and low-acid canned food manufacturing facility in Northumberland, PA was subjected to inspection last Aug. 30 through Sept. 10.

“The inspection determined that your facility produced acidified and low-acid canned food products and revealed that you have significant violations of the Acidified Foods, Low-Acid Canned Foods, and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations…” says the warning letter.

FDA analyzed samples of Rally’s Chili that were found with “a hard swell, viable unspecified mold, seam defect, air bubbles, and food trapped within seam wall.” It had concerns about the pH levels.

“As a manufacturer of acidified and low-acid canned food products, you are required to comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and the federal regulations relating to the processing of acidified and low-acid canned food products,” the warning letter added.

FDA said the canning facility might require an emergency permit for low-acid canned foods and acidified foods.

“We have received your September 23, 2010, written response to the FDA Form 483, Inspectional Observations issued to your firm on September 10, 2010. Our comments regarding the adequacy of the actions you took to correct the objectionable conditions and practices observed during the inspection are detailed after each violation that is noted below,” FDA added.

Among the significant violations were:

  • No acidified food expert to schedule processes for Rally’s Chili with Beans.

  • Insufficient testing and examination of pouches to protect them from leakage and contamination.

  • The closing machine required tests at sufficient frequencies. FDA found pouches of Furmano’s Dark Red Kidney Beans and Furmano’s Pinto Beans with swells, splits, leaks and over rough seals and puncture-like wounds.

  • Not making sure work-in-progress is not leading to contamination.  FDA said, “Your workers used power wash hoses to clean the floors and conveyor belts below and adjacent to the tomato lines. The force of the spray caused the water to aerosolize and come into contact with the peeled tomatoes on the conveyor above the cleaning area.”

  • Wastewater discharge from the retort system was observed over-flowing the discharge pit while production was underway.

  • Lack of pest control as evidenced by maggots, crawling insects, and flies in pallets used to move product. No. 10 cans of Dark Kidney Beans in the warehouse were swollen and covered with maggots and flies.

“We acknowledge that these products were voluntarily destroyed on September 20, 2010. Further, your firm’s September 23, 2010 response identifies the need to begin weekly inspections of the entire warehouse in order to identify and remove containers that have any insect activity and to bring this to the immediate attention of Furman’s Pest Professional for the appropriate action,” FDA added.

The canning factory was given 15 working days to resolve its production woes.

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