Clostridium botulinum is a devastating, spore forming rod shaped bacterium that, when allowed to germinate due to improper food-handling practices, produces awful, life-threatening symptoms that occur because of the toxin’s ability to cause flaccid paralysis of major body systems. We have represented many people who were completely paralyzed and required a ventilator to breathe. Some died, including a middle-aged mother of two who consumed carrot juice that, during distribution, had not been held at proper temperatures.
If you’re a carrot juice company, or any kind of juice company for that matter that does not completely pasteurize its products, then you have to be totally aware of the inherent risks associated with root vegetables like carrots that are in fact cultuivated in a medium (ie the dirt) where these bacteria live. That is why it’s disturbing to read about companies that don’t know, or more likely just don’t care.
Barbara Leonard, of Courthouse News Service, today reported on a prosecution in New York of a company called Juices that allegedly was heinously indifferent to the well-being of customers it profited from. With companies like this (assuming the allegations are true), who needs enemies?
The government claims that beverages produced by Juices may contain other hazards besides botulism, including allergens, metals and glass, because the company does not follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.
The FDA found similar violations in each of its inspections, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and the company continues to ignore regulations and warnings, according to the complaint.
"Despite multiple inspections, numerous warnings from FDA, and defendants’ promises that the violations would be remedied, defendants have failed to institute effective measures to bring their juice processing operations into compliance with the law," according to the complaint.
The FDA investigators found that Juices did not have a HACCP plan for its refrigerated, low-acid vegetable juices, and not properly heat and refrigerate its low-acid vegetable juice products to eliminate and prevent botulism spores.
"During juice production, the FDA investigators observed that the water temperature of beet and carrot juices never reached the temperature that defendants identified as critical to juice processing, yet they took no corrective action and moved the juice products to inventory for distribution," according to the complaint. "Upon monitoring the temperature of defendants’ walk-in cooler over a 24-hour period, the FDA investigators also documented that the temperature in the cooler, which contained bottled carrot juice, was favorable for the rapid growth of C. bot."