A pecan shelling processor in Mississippi and acidified foods firm in Jamaica are both on notice from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of U.S. food safety laws.

The FDA sent warning letters to the companies in August and November of last year and posted them for public view in recent days. Companies are allowed 15 working days to respond to FDA warning letters. Failure to promptly correct violations can result in legal action without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.

MS Fruit & Vegetable Co. LLC 
In an Aug. 10 warning letter to company co-owners Lindsey B. Mabry and Lee D. Boone, the FDA described violations observed during an inspection Feb. 13-16, and 28, 2017, at the firm’s produce warehouse and seasonal pecan shelling operation in Grenada, MS. According to the warning letter, the investigators observed serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) regulation for foods.

The following significant violations are noted regarding the adulterated foods:

  • The firm failed to take precautions to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source. “Pecan dust, whole pecans, and fragments of pecan nuts and shells were observed on floors, walls, and equipment surrounding the Pecan Sheller” … “Fragments of pecan nuts were sitting on top of (a) wooden table along with one case of exposed green bell peppers, one case of exposed cucumbers, and two plastic crates of onions.”
  • “On February 16, 2017, an employee was observed using [a] pallet jack, which was covered in apparent pecan dust, to transport pallets of onions and exposed cabbage into the walk-in cooler. The same employee then handled approximately 400 exposed tomatoes using bare hand contact without washing his hands prior to handling the tomatoes.”
  • The firm failed to take effective measures to exclude pests from the processing areas and to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. There were apparent rodent excreta pellets on the floor inside of the walk-in cooler used to store ready-to-eat produce. Two dead rodents were observed in an area on top of the walk-in cooler utilized for storage of personal items. One apparent decayed rodent tail and too numerous to count apparent rodent hairs, were observed on the south receiving area floor used to receive and load ready-to-eat produce.
  • The firm failed to take proper precautions to protect food from contamination with filth because of deficiencies in plant size and design, limiting access for cleaning and inspection for pests.
  • The firm failed to properly store equipment and remove litter and waste that may constitute an attractant, breeding place, or harborage area for pests, within the immediate vicinity of the plant buildings or structures.
  • The firm failed to us  rodenticides under precautions and restrictions that will protect against the contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials. “Specifically, rodent stations were open, exposing rodent bait blocks. Fragments of these rodent bait blocks were directly on the floor in the southeast interior corner of the cooler, approximately eight feet from boxes of exposed sweet potatoes.”
  • The firm failed to properly maintain plant equipment as to be adequately cleanable and properly maintained.

The FDA acknowledged a response letter dated Feb. 28, 2017, which was received on March 14, 2017, however the firm’s response to the above violations was not adequate, as further described in the letter.

U.L. Manufacturing Company Ltd.
In a Nov. 16 warning letter to managing director Uriah Kelly, the FDA described violations observed during an inspection on Sept. 19, 2017 at the firm’s acidified food facility in Saint Catherine, Jamaica. According to the warning letter, the firm manufactures acidified foods products intended for export to the United States. Serious violations of regulations for Emergency Permit Control, under the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulation for foods, were observed.

“Accordingly, we have determined that your acidified food products are adulterated in that it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health.”

Additionally, the FDA warned that they may take steps to refuse admission of the commercial processor’s products when offered for entry into the United States.

All manufacturers of acidified foods intended for export to the United States are required to comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), including those relating to the processing of acidified food products.

Significant violations and observations included:

  • The firm failed to file the scheduled processes with the FDA for each acidified food in each container size for their crushed pepper sauce; pimento sauce; meat and steak sauce; and fish and meat sauce.
  • The firm failed to maintain processing and production records showing adherence to the scheduled processes, including records of critical factors. “You did not record the ‘Production Time/Temperature’ for ‘Hot Pepper Sauce’ batches. Your scheduled process for ‘Hot Pepper Sauce’ requires a minimum cook temperature of 92°C for 5 minutes however record reviews revealed you did not record the start and end time or start and end temperature on your thermal process monitoring form for these three batches.”
  • The firm’s records do not ensure that they achieve the full scheduled process for all batches.

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