An Indianapolis company implicated in Salmonella outbreaks linked to pre-cut fruit in 2018 and 2019 is closing down the freshcut part of its operation because it has lost a major customer.

Caito Foods LLC reported the “recent unforeseen cancellation of a customer contract” in a letter to state officials in recent days. The letter was part of a mandatory notification process employers in Indiana must follow before plant closings or mass layoffs. The Feb. 27 letter says 330 employees will be let go beginning in late April. Caito, formerly a family-owned company, was purchased by SpartanNash in 2017.

The closure of the freshcut factory comes less than a year after state and federal officials linked a Salmonella outbreak to pre-cut fruit produced there. The outbreak saw 137 people across 10 states sickened.

In 2018 another Salmonella outbreak linked to Caito Foods pre-cut fruit sickened 77 people in nine states, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although the closure letter to Indiana officials mentioned the loss of a key customer, it did not name that business partner. During the outbreak in 2019 a number of major retailers were named as being Caito customers. Those customers and brands of fruit involved included:

  • Kroger under the Renaissance Food Group label and the Boar’s Head private label;
  • Target under the Garden Highway label;
  • Trader Joe’s under the Trader Joe’s label;
  • Walmart under a Freshness Guaranteed label; and
  • Amazon/Whole Foods under the Whole Foods Market label.

The closure announcement comes after SpartanNash shut down Caito’s Fresh Kitchen cut fruit operation this past fall. More than 50 employees were let go with that closure. Other aspects of Caito’s operations are expected to continue.

“This notification does not impact the Caito Foods produce distribution operations which have been the foundation of the Caito business since 1965,” according to a company statement from Meredith Gremel, vice president of corporate affairs and communications at SpartanNash.

“This difficult decision was made to support the company’s strategy to deliver locally produced fresh cut fruits and vegetables to its independent and national account customers, as well as corporate-owned retail stores.”

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