Several media outlets are reporting on a settlement agreement reached with the DOJ and USDA in what may be one of the more egregious labeling errors. John Soules Food Inc. of Tyler Texas allegedly distributed prodcuts to an East Texas jail mislabeled as fajita meat, which were in fact pet food according to federal court documents. This case highlights the importance of downstream label control – John Soules sold the meat product to a meat broker who agreed to sell the product as pet food, but John Soules never changed the labeling. When the meat broker sold to another meat broker it sold the product based on the unchanged labeling.
From the DOJ:
The settlement agreement concludes a three year investigation into allegations that in late 2006 and early 2007, some wholesale buyers of a raw, John Soules Foods product known as “beef trimmings” may have received some portion of that product in an adulterated and/or mislabeled condition. USDA investigators obtained evidence that during that time period, John Soules Foods experienced problems getting some of their beef trimmings product to freeze properly. In order to minimize the risk of any potential problems, John Soules Foods sold some boxes of their beef trimmings to an independent meat broker who agreed to sell the product as pet food. With the understanding that the specified boxes of beef trimmings would be sold as pet food, John Soules Foods did not change the labels on the boxes to reflect the new “pet food” designation. However, the broker violated the agreement and sold the boxes of pet food beef trimmings to another meat broker for human consumption. A subsequent meat broker later re-sold some of the pet food beef trimmings to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for human consumption. There is no evidence that anyone who consumed any of the “beef trimmings” product suffered any ill effects.
Under the terms of the agreement, John Soules Foods, Inc. will adopt additional procedures designed to assure continued compliance with the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and will review existing procedures, books and records, and policies to assure such continued compliance. John Soules Foods will also pay $392,000.00 to the U.S. Treasury General Fund as a monetary payment to resolve the pending investigation and for the purpose of reimbursing the costs of the investigation.
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