Unsanitary conditions alleged at Native American Enterprises

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Complaint filed to stop distribution at Kansas food manufacturer

Related tags: Listeria, Listeria monocytogenes, Food and drug administration

A civil complaint has been filed against Native American Enterprises (NAE) seeking to close it due to food safety concerns.

The complaint was filed in the US District Court for Kansas against the firm, of Wichita, Kansas; its VP and part-owner, William N. McGreevy and production manager, Robert C. Conner, said the US Department of Justice.

Native American Enterprises (NAE) is a fourth generation, family-owned food processing operation founded in 1930.

It manufactures and distributes mainly ready-to-eat (RTE) refried beans and sauces.

Target markets include USDA Commodity School Lunch Contracts, US Military Prime Vendor Contracts, US Military Field Rations, proprietary chains, co-packing and private labeling, local retails stores, and Direct Store Delivery (DSD) in the Wichita and surrounding areas.

The department filed the complaint at the request of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A complaint is a set of allegations that, if the case were to proceed to trial, the government would need to prove by producing evidence.

Listeria findings and inspection history

Unsanitary conditions include Listeria Monocytogenes (L. mono) in NAE’s facility and unsanitary employee practices, said the complaint.

FDA inspected NAE’s facility in August 2015 and collected environmental samples and observed unsanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to manufacture and package food conditions to minimize microorganism growth, take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair. 

According to the complaint, FDA observed rain water leaking through the roof in the packaging room, above where NAE employees packaged RTE refried beans. 

The agency also found cracks and holes in the walls and floor junctures that allow water and debris to collect, prohibit adequate cleaning, and could harbor Listeria.

FDA inspected NAE’s facility twice in 2014 and collected environmental samples during RTE refried bean production during each visit and found Listeria. 

As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed a failure to maintain equipment in an acceptable condition through appropriate cleaning and sanitizing.

“Insanitary conditions at food processing facilities can present significant risks to consumers and food manufacturers must take steps to minimize those risks,”​ said Benjamin C. Mizer, principal deputy Assistant Attorney General, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. 

In a 2013 warning letter,​ FDA said it found Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria welshimeri in the processing area, which may indicate insanitary conditions in the facility.

It acknowledged a response to the FDA-483 at the close of the inspection but found it ‘inadequate’ and said it would verify adequacy of these corrective actions during the next inspection.

The agency warned the firm it may take further action if the violations were not corrected such as seizing product(s) and/or stopping it from operating.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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