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Meat Co. Settles With Government Over Beef Trim Trip-up

For John Soules Foods Inc., maybe a good deed finally did go unpunished.

The nation’s leading fajita processing and marketing company in Tyler, TX and the U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, have settled a USDA investigation that goes back six years.

It ends a case that saw John Soules get tripped up when trying to prevent some questionable meat from becoming food for human consumption.

In the agreement, John Soules agrees to pay $392,000 to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse the government for the cost of the investigation and to end it. John M. Bales, the U.S. Attorney, agrees there will be no criminal, civil, or administrative action against John Soules Foods Inc. for alleged adulterated or misbranded meat that was being investigated.

Also, John Soules does not admit any misconduct and the U.S. Attorney credits the company for its cooperation.

So what happened? Here’s how the U.S. explained it:

“In late 2006 and early 2007, some wholesale buyers of a raw, John Soules Foods product known as “beef trimmings” may have received some portion of that product in an adulterated and/or mislabeled condition.

“USDA investigators obtained evidence that during that time period, John Soules Foods experienced problems getting some of their beef trimmings product to freeze properly.

“In order to minimize the risk of any potential problems, John Soules Foods sold some boxes of their beef trimmings to an independent meat broker who agreed to sell the product as pet food.

“With the understanding that the specified boxes of beef trimmings would be sold as pet food, John Soules Foods did not change the labels on the boxes to reflect the new “pet food” designation.

“However, the broker violated the agreement and sold the boxes of pet food beef trimmings to another meat broker for human consumption.

“A subsequent meat broker later re-sold some of the pet food beef trimmings to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for human consumption. There is no evidence that anyone who consumed any of the “beef trimmings” product suffered any ill effects”

“We fully support the USDA’s vigorous protection of the nation’s food supply,” said Bales. “This settlement agreement upholds the government’s commitment to food safety while also recognizing that John Soules Foods, Inc. is a good corporate citizen with a long record of regulatory compliance and customer satisfaction.”

The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, and Food Safety and Inspection Service, of the USDA, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble represents the government.

The John Soules Foods processing facilities in Tyler have expanded to over 250,000 square feet since it opened in 1975 in a 2,000 square foot building. It added cooked meat production lines in 1999 to support its line of Fajita products.

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