Snokist Growers, which provides processed fruit products to the National School Lunch Program and baby food makers, is under fire for repackaging applesauce containing potentially dangerous mold.
Last week, Food and Drug Administration officials released a warning letter issued to the Yakima, Washington company that outlined significant violations. The FDA cited Snokist for reprocessing moldy applesauce using a method “that is not effective against all toxic metabolites produced from the mold.”
“Several foodborne molds may be hazardous to human health because of their ability to produce toxic metabolites known as mycotoxins. Most mycotoxins are stable compounds that are not destroyed by heat treatment. Even though the generating organisms may not survive the heat treatment, the preformed toxin may still be present,” FDA wrote.
The FDA found 8 instances between January and December 2010 in which the firm reprocessed moldy products using ineffective methods and did not reexamine the final product.
Earlier this year, recalled Snokist products were blamed for sickening nine children in North Carolina, according to MSNBC. The company recalled more than 3,300 cases of applesauce in May, blaming dented seals in the manufacturing process.
In its June inspection, the agency also observed a number of other conditions in violation of good manufacturing practices, including: pallets of leaking cans, condensation on a water line above an apple slice conveyors, and non food grade hydraulic fluid dripping onto the housing of the apple slice conveyer.
FDA also found no hand-washing facilities located in the production area, apple slice sorters that were flaking and disintegrating in direct contact with food, lots of fruit flies on or near food, as well as feathers and bird feces inside the building.
In a statement last week, Snokist noted mold is removed before processing product through the normal thermal process.
“It is also important to note that to our knowledge, no reworked product was ever used in product going to the USDA. This means it never went to schools or public food banks.”
The company also said that only a small fraction of product is reworked, less than .3 percent, and pointed to a high audit score, claiming to have achieved the highest level SQF 2000 certification.
Update: NSF said Monday that Snokist currently is not certified to SQF 2000 and is not listed on the SQFI website. “Snokist’s SQF 2000 certification was suspended following Snokist’s failed audit by NSF International of October 4-6, 2011,” said an NSF spokeswoman in an email to Food Safety News. “While NSF conducted a re-audit in November, NSF’s review is ongoing and Snokist remains suspended.”