The Food Integrity Campaign, a project of the Government Accountability Project, reported yesterday that two United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) inspectors who were assigned to the Snokist Growers fruit processing plant in Washington state reported concerns about moldy applesauce to their supervisor but were repeatedly ignored. The inspectors alleged that packaging leaks would cause 300 gallon bags of applesauce to spoil.
Rather than dispose of the spoiled product, however, the inspectors alleged that Snokist would simply scrape the thick mold off the top of the applesauce, then heat-treat the remaining product and send it out to the public. A consultant hired by Snokist told the company in 2009 that the mold in the applesauce “would not be eliminated” by the thermal process the firm used to “treat” the spoiled product.
Snokist, however, continued selling the product, allegedly “reprocessing” and selling more than 23,000 gallons of moldy applesauce in 2010. Two former USDA inspectors, Wendy Alguard and Jerry Pierce, fought to keep the applesauce out of school programs despite being repeatedly hushed by their supervisors.
Last year, frustrated with the apparent inability or unwillingness of the USDA to address the problem, Alguard tipped off the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to Snokist’s unhealthy practices. Snokist, once a major supplier to the national school lunch program, was forced to stop reprocessing its applesauce and lost its school lunch contract. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2011.