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| Grewal Law, PLLC

According to the Food and Drug Administration Tyson Food Group could face legal trouble if it doesn’t clean up its Texas plant that produces seafood soups. In a warning letter posted on the FDA website on Tuesday, U.S. health regulators warned Tyson about the unsanitary conditions of the plant. For example, in September inspectors found fish refrigerated at temperatures that were too high at the Fort Worth plant. In fact, Tyson apparently refrigerated fish between 40-55 degrees for 18 hours at a time—according to FDA regulations, fish should be refrigerated at temperatures below 40 degrees to prevent bacteria and toxins from growing on the meat. Inspectors also cited Tyson for improperly documenting procedures for stopping bacterial growth.

Nevertheless, Tyson argues that the problems have to do with documentation, not actual product safety. The company spokesman, Gary Mickelson, argues that the Fort Worth plant is “clean and sanitary” and that “the products there are safe to eat”. Furthermore, he also maintains that none of the fish that the FDA inspectors discovered was used in the making of any products. Since Tyson received the warning letter in September from the FDA, they argue that they updated their thawing procedures. However, the FDA issued another letter to the company on November 13th because the agency still believes that Tyson has not fully complied with the regulations concerning pathogen growth and toxins.

According to the Seafood Network Information Center at the University of California-Davis, all meat and seafood should be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees to prevent the growth of pathogens. As temperatures increase, bacteria can multiply and produce enzymes that contribute to food spoilage. Furthermore, shellfish accounts for 3% of food-borne illness cases in the U.S. One-third of food-borne illnesses are caused by improperly refrigerated seafood products that develop a toxin called scroboid poisoning.

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