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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak – So, who was right FDA or Primus Labs in the Jensen Farm Audit?

Audit.jpgElizabeth Weise, USA TODA just posted a few moments ago “Listeria-linked farm had rated high in third-party audit.” The whole story is worth a read, but here are my favorite parts:

Here are the FDA concerns about the Jensen Farms packing house from its inspections done on Sept. 22 and 23 (2011), followed by quotes from the Primus audit report from July 25, 2011.

FDA: “The packing facility’s design allowed water to pool on the floor near equipment and employee walkways.”

Primus audit: “Are floor surfaces in good condition, with no standing water, no debris trapping cracks and are they easy to clean? Total Compliance.” 10 of 10 points.

FDA: “The packing facility floor was constructed in a manner that made it difficult to clean.”

Primus audit: “Are the floor drains where they are needed for drainage and cleanup? Total Compliance.” 5 of 5 points.

FDA: “The design of the packing facility equipment, including equipment used to wash and dry the cantaloupe, did not lend itself to be easily or routinely cleaned and sanitized. Several areas on both the washing and drying equipment appeared to be uncleanable, and dirt and product buildup was visible on some areas of the equipment, even after it had been disassembled, cleaned and sanitized.”

Primus audit: “Does equipment design and condition (e.g. smooth surfaces, smooth weld seams, non-toxic materials, no wood) facilitate effective cleaning and maintenance?” Total Compliance.” 10 of 10 points.

Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose firm is representing the families of nine people who died in the outbreak and 26 who where sickened, said he has never sued a third-party audit firm but is thinking this might be the time to do it.

The auditing companies not only get paid by the people they’re auditing, but insulate themselves from liability through their contracts, Marler said.

“Basically (the contracts) say something to the effect that., ‘Yeah, we’re auditing you, but we’re not responsible if something goes bad.'”

Primus Labs – something went really bad. There are nearly 125 who were sickened and 25 or more who have died. And, you “gave the Jensen Farms packing house in Granada, Colo. a “superior” rating.

  • Anonymous

    It’s way past time for someone to call out the third party audit system as a whole.
    Anonymous, because I have to administer these things for my employer. I can testify that they add virtually no value to the safety of our food supply.

  • Theresa Kentner

    So they had a 3rd Party Audit. To whose standards, Primus’ own standards, or some recognized body?

  • There is a significant difference between the traditional 3rd party audit, Primus at Jensen, AIB at Wright County Egg and Peanut Corporation of America and a 3rd party certification audit (SQF, BRC etc.). In a traditional 3rd party audit the auditing firm does want the audit report to jeopardize future auditing opportunities. In the 3rd party certification audit the auditing firm does not want to miss things in the audit that could jeopardize their sanction from the certifying agency (SQF, BRC, etc.). The Global Food Safety Initiative and the 3rd party certification audits are a step in the right direction with regards to food safety.

  • Anonymous

    Is not the first time that Primus Labs has been involded in such situations, anonymous because one time ago I suggest them to improving the way they do audits, that audits does not appear food safety audits, I have saw auditors following like maintenance audits, No food safety. They were upset with me, they said We have lots of clients and we are not going to change the way we do audits. So, I just got away…probably they are afraid to make changes, the marketing is very well, but the service is not well done.