Moldy tomatoes from Kraft, Frito-Lay, B&G Foods, and Safeway could be in your pantry because of a basic weakness in the industrialized food system. The NY Times reported that SK Foods, one of the nations largest tomato processors, was bribing large corporate buyers to push their rotten tomatoes into your pantry!
Over the last 14 months, Mr. Watson and three other purchasing managers, at Frito-Lay, Safeway and B&G Foods, have pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Five people connected to one of the nation’s largest tomato processors, SK Foods, have also admitted taking part in the scheme…
… The scheme, as laid out by federal prosecutors, has two parts. Officials say that Mr. Salyer and others at SK Foods greased the palms of a handful of corporate buyers in exchange for lucrative contracts and confidential information on bids submitted by competitors. This most likely drove up ingredient prices for the big food companies.
In addition, prosecutors say that for years, SK Foods shipped its customers millions of pounds of bulk tomato paste and puree that fell short of basic quality standards — with falsified documentation to mask the problems. Often that meant mold counts so high the sale should have been prohibited under federal law; at other times it involved breaching specifications in the sales contracts, such as acidity levels or the age of the product.
The scope of the tainted shipments was much broader than the bribery scheme, touching more than 55 companies.
…In 2007, faced with a product shortage, Mr. Salyer allegedly ordered subordinates to ship 3.4 million pounds of moldy tomato paste to Kraft. It was accompanied by documentation falsely claiming that it met federal mold limits…
Michael P. Doyle, the director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, said there had been several cases in recent years in which ingredient suppliers were suspected of falsifying documentation to mask quality or safety faults in foods, especially with imports. He said that should make companies more aggressive in testing, not only to guard against pathogens but also to check quality.
“As a consumer I wouldn’t want to have moldy tomatoes in my tomato ketchup or my tomato products,” Dr. Doyle said.
(As if it s not bad enough that you can’t by ketchup without GMO High Fructose Corn Syrup! But that’s… another post.)
Where do you go with news like this?
- Do you call for a boycott?
- Do you write your congressman?
- Do you show up and picket your local grocery store?
- Or fly to the corporate offices of one of these industry giants hoping to be heard?
Honestly, what I do, is say thank you New York Times for the reminder of why I grow my own food or buy it local as much as possible!
How about you? How do you respond to such news?