Its “Glacier Mountain” bottled water does not come from “Artesian Wells” and is not “deionized.” Its Ugly Mug Coffee does not come from either Peru or Costa Rica as listed on the label.
Yet for its brands, Memphis-based Lambert’s Inc. claims “Glacier Mountain” bottled water is “Pure Artesian Well Water” and that it is “From the Memphis, TN Artesian Wells.” It says the water is deionized.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a June 21 warning letter to Lambert’s, says “Glacier Mountain” bottles are filled at a municipal tap.
Lambert’s says its Ugly Mug coffee is from Peru and Costa Rica, elite coffee growing areas. FDA says it knows Ugly Mug coffee does not come from those countries and questions the accuracy of the use of “Cafe Columbia” as the origin of a Lambert’s Coffee® Roasters product.
FDA calls all of those problems “misbranding,” but it calls all the beverage maker’s products “adulterated” because they have been “prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth.”
Among the “significant deviations” cited by FDA were:
-Lambert’s failed to sample and inspect containers and closures with bacteriological swabs at least once every quarter as required.
– The bottler also failed to do a once a week bacteriological test of a batch or segment of a production run.
-It also failed to do chemical, physical and radiological analysis for a batch or segment of a water from a day’s production run.
-The processing facility failed to maintain proper records of such actions as physical inspections and maintenance, and sampling and testing.
-Lambert’s failed to ensure sanitizing operations. (FDA did not disclose some details about the method used by the company for sanitizing purposes.)
-Its water treatment does not demonstrate that certain residual levels are not exceeded.
-Bottles were not adequately cleaned, sanitized, and inspected just prior to being filled, capped and sealed.
-An unapproved sanitizer is being used.
-Bottling machines are not being inspected as often as required and an FDA inspector observed rusting fill heads on the bottle neck inversion part of the mechanical washer.
-Manual filling and capping is not being conducted in a sanitary manner. Filled open bottles are left on the conveyor until an employee caps them by hand.
-A gloved employee was observed going back and forth between handling “dirty” returned containers and “clean” ones without changing gloves.
-The coffee and bottled water manufacturing operations are being conducted in an open warehouse where cobwebs, dust, and dirt are abundant on ceilings, walls and fixtures.
FDA asked Lambert’s to respond to the warning letter within 15 working days.
Neither its commercial coffee nor its newly acquired Ugly Mug retail brand are “misbranded”, a spokesman for Lambert Coffee Co. in Memphis says.
David Lambert, president of the family-owned business, has provided Food Safety News with copies of the actual product sheets from the days the coffee in question was actually packed last March and those records show it was the correct product.
Lambert said, in regards to the coffee, there was no “misbranding” as alleged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There was some miscommunication between he and FDA inspectors who apparently asked about the origin of the coffee, and Lambert responded in a general way to their questions.
In acquiring the Ugly Mug Coffee Co, Lambert’s packaging listing Costa Rica and Peru. Lambert’s gets coffee beans from 20 countries for blended products and does not list a single country of origin.
As for its water, it is filtered through the Memphis Aquifer but FDA does not consider water from a municipal supply as being “artesian.”
Lambert said the company is working with FDA and welcome’s re-inspection.