Tico’s Mexican Foods Inc., a Denver food processor known for its green chili, received a Dec. 21 warning letter about its clam chowder from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Tico’s, located at 2011 South Bannock St. west of the University of Denver campus, is a 41-year-old business where Denver’s Department of Environmental Health has found only one critical violation in the last five years.

FDA, which inspected Tico’s more recently than Denver’s DEH, found the processor was making clam chowder without the benefit of a seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan.

FDA said Tico’s must have a seafood HACCP plan for its clam chowder “to control the potential food safety hazards of pathogen growth and toxin formation, including potential for Clostridium botulinum toxin development and allergens.”

“We received your written response dated October 11, 2010 to the FDA 483, Objectionable Observations, on October 14, 2010,” the warning letter said.

“Our review of the information provided in that response reveals that it is inadequate.  While you state that you will write an interim HACCP plan using the principles of your fully cooked, not-shelf-stable HACCP plan, you have not, as of this time, provided a HACCP plan (or plans) to address the hazards and controls associated with the above mentioned product. 

“Furthermore, you state that the General Manager will enroll in the Seafood Alliance Internet Training Course as soon as FDA approves this response.  During this time, the temporary HACCP plans will be amended to reflect the requirements of the seafood regulations. However, you are currently responsible for ensuring that your processing plant operates in compliance with the seafood regulations.”

The FDA letter provides Tico’s with links to the federal government guidance on how to prevent deadly botulism.

Tico’s only critical violation in the last five years was for not properly mixing sanitizers, cleaners or other chemical.  Denver DEH last inspected Tico’s in late 2009.

FDA gave Tico’s 15 working days to respond to the warning letter.  Unless corrections are made, the agency said additional enforcement action is possible including seizure of adulterated food products and/or enjoining the firm from operating.