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Native American Enterprises predicts ‘quick resolution’ to FDA’s listeria litigation

Wichita’s Native American Enterprises LLC — the target of a March 21 civil complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration — it telling its side of the story.

NAESign_406x250Doing business as Native American Foods, the Kansas company issued a statement Friday saying “unequivocally that no product contaminated with Listeria or other harmful bacteria has been sold, or transferred to any customer of NAE or other member of the public.”

While it has yet to respond in court to the government, Native American Enterprises (NAE) contends it is in compliance with the injunctive relief sought in the FDA’s complaint and predicts a quick resolution. Further, none of the FDA regulated products involved in the complaint are distributed to NAE’s military or school customers, according to the statement.

And, it is open for business.

Native American Foods, owned by brothers William and Scott McGreevy of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, mostly produces meat-filled food products under the daily inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Its meatless refried beans and sauces, however, fall under FDA regulation and its periodic inspections.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas stems from FDA’s inspection in August 2015 when the agency took environmental samples from areas where the refried beans and sauces were packaged.

From 100 environmental samples taken at NAE, 39 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and five others were positive for other strains. Because L. mono can survive and thrive in refrigerated and high salt environments, the refried beans produced at NAE pose a significant public health risk, according to FDA.

But the beans and sauces were not contaminated and NAE says it “does not introduce, and has not introduced, any food into commerce which is adulterated, contaminated or unsafe in any way.”

When L. mono was found inside the plant, NAE says it took corrective actions, but claims those remedial actions by independent experts did not get properly communicated to FDA. The steps it took involved building maintenance issues, including enhanced sanitation and cleaning protocols.

The DOJ’s complaint for a permanent injunction was assigned to J. Thomas Marten, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Kansas. DOJ names the company, part-owner William N. McGreevy and production manager Robert C. Connor in the court documents.  They are represented by Wichita attorney Carl Maughan.

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