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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Hold the Tuna, It May |Be Filthy, DOJ Says

(CN) - Scotty's Incorporated of Detroit prepares the ready-to-eat sandwiches it sells mainly through convenience stores in filthy conditions and without control to ensure its tuna sandwiches, in particular, are free from contamination, federal prosecutors say.

In a complaint filed in the federal court in Detroit on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Justice Department claims Scotty's, which does business as Bruce Enterprises and Bruce's Fresh Products, has known for years of the conditions described in the complaint, but has failed to do anything about them.

Prosecutors say Scotty's processing facility was most recently inspected by the FDA between Jan. 14 and Feb. 6, 2014, and it was during these site visits that inspectors found the company's sandwiches are packed and held in unsanitary conditions "and may have become contaminated with filth or otherwise rendered injurious to health."

They said the tuna sandwiches were considered at particular risk of contamination because the defendants failed to follow the Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations during their tuna processing.

According to the complaint, FDA investigators found Scotty's did little or nothing to prevent the potential growth of microorganisms and contamination, failed to take reasonable steps that all employees working with food "conform to hygienic practices," and also failed to ensure that pieces of the actual building in which the sandwiches are made and its fixtures didn't fall into the food.

The government said Scotty's also failed to keep sanitary control records regarding the cleanliness of food-contact surfaces, including utensils, gloves, and out-garments, or steps taken to prevent cross-contamination in the food-prep room.

This is the fourth time the company has been told of lapses at the facility, the complaint says. The FDA also inspected the facility in August 2006, August 2008, and August 2009, and during each of these surveys found the company had failed to implement a written food-safety plan for processing the tuna it uses in its tuna sandwiches.

During the August 2008, and August 2009 inspections, the FDA investigators also documented failure to maintain buildings, fixtures, and other physical facilities in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated, prosecutors said.

The federal government is seeking to permanently enjoin the company from distributing adulterated or potentially contaminated food. Also named as a defendant in the complaint is Sandra Jackson, the company's co-owner and manager.

It is represented by Daniel Baeza, of the DOJ's Consumer Protection Branch.

According to the government, the defendants' sandwiches are primarily sold to local police departments, and to retail customers at convenience stores and gas stations.

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