For those readers who have not yet read “Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat,” you likely do not know my aversion to apples after a Summer working in the orchards of the Okanogan Valley. Still in all, I always find it a bit hard when poisoning kids hits close to home.
According to press reports, federal officials are investigating a school lunch supplier for repackaging applesauce containing potentially dangerous, multi-colored molds. Food and Drug Administration officials have issued a warning letter to Snokist Growers, a Washington state fruit processor that provides products to baby food makers and to the nation’s schools through the National School Lunch Program. Snokist, the FDA says in its letter, uses methods of processing and reconditioning moldy applesauce that is not fully safe and effective to protect people from foodborne illness. The FDA writes that health violations observed from inspections “cause the food products produced in your facility to be adulterated… in that the food products were prepared, packaged, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.” (See Warning Letter)
Earlier this year, recalled Snokist products were blamed for the illnesses of nine North Carolina children, who reportedly became sick after consuming applesauce at school, according to MSNBC. The FDA also says that Snokist failed to correct issues that were brought up in a June inspection, after the company recalled more than 3,300 cases of applesauce in May for dented seals. The summer inspection revealed that the production facility was laden with violations, including an instance where “non food grade hydraulic fluid was observed dripping from a pipe onto the housing of the apple slice conveyor.” The FDA also found no hand-washing facilities in the production area, dozens of fruit flies — both alive and dead — on or near cans and fruit, as well as bird feathers and feces within the facilities.