FDA: Conditions unsanitary at Detroit sandwich company
Detroit — The U.S. government has gone to court to ask that a local company be ordered to stop preparing ready-to-eat sandwiches, accusing the company of producing food under unsanitary conditions and of improper record keeping and labeling practices.
The injunction — presented Friday in U.S. District Court — targeted Scotty’s Inc., which also does business as Bruce’s Fresh Products.
It named Sandra J. Jackson, co-owner and manager of Scotty’s, as a defendant.
According to the filing, Scotty’s “prepares, packs, holds and distributes ready to eat (RTE) sandwiches” that are “primarily sold to local police departments and retail customers, such as convenience stores and gas stations, in Michigan and Ohio.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the company has failed to follow federal guidelines — Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations — for tuna processing for the company’s tuna fish sandwiches.
Jackson denied the allegation, saying her company no longer offers tuna sandwiches.
“We do not, and have not, sold any seafood in the last year to year-and-a-half,” Jackson said.
“I order labels in bulk because I save money that way. Some of the labels still said tuna fish on them, but we no longer offer it. The FDA even went to some of the locations that handle our products to check to make sure I didn’t manufacture tuna fish.”
Jerry Moore, Jackson’s attorney, noted that Scotty’s is family owned and has been in business for 50 years.
“To the best of my knowledge, their products are good and wholesome,” Moore said.
“They wouldn’t be in business for 50 years if they were getting reports of bad products. The problem is that federal regulations have multiplied over the years. Now they have a requirement that if you’re working with food products, you have to have your working method in writing.”
According to Moore, Scotty’s doesn’t have a written working method in place that meets FDA requirements.
“The safety of the product isn’t the issue; as I understand it, the regulations say a product is considered to be misbranded if the HACCP program isn’t in place,” Moore said.
“I’ve been working with attorneys in Washington ... and with experts in food handling, on what we can do to satisfy the feds. The major concerns of the government in this request will be satisfied if we get the wording corrected.”
According to the government, the facility was inspected by the Food and Drug Administration between Jan. 14 and Feb. 6, 2014.
The FDA concluded the sandwiches had been prepared under “unsanitary conditions” and may have become contaminated “with filth or rendered injurious to health.”
The FDA said it had discovered problems at the facility as far back as 2006 and had issued letters of warning dating to 2010.
The requested injunction said Jackson had made some corrections in response to the warnings, but that the company “either did not follow through on their attempts to correct, or failed to sustain the corrections they made, because the FDA investigators observed and documented ongoing, significant ... violations during the October 2010 and February 2014 inspections.”
Moore hopes the publicity about the hearing won’t injure the company.
“They employ a number of ladies to help make the sandwiches,” Moore said.
“We’re talking and working with the government so we can meet their requirements. What we fear is that customers won’t understand and will draw the wrong conclusions.
“I would hate to see them forced out of business.”