Is The Auditor Responsible?

May 12, 2013

PrimusLabs’ audit shows a Superior rating for Jensen Farms.  Listeria monocytogenes from the Jensen cantaloupes caused the deaths of 37 and made 147 others sick, resulting in millions in medical bills.

When the FDA investigates they find a “smoking gun”.  The Jensens are using a used potato washer to wash their cantaloupes.  The washer is not designed for this task and just doesn’t do a good job.  To make matters worse, no sanitizers are added to the wash water.

Looking further into the audit we find that PrimusLabs had sub-contracted it to Bio Food Safety.  Earlier acting as a consultant, Bio Food Safety had pointed out to the Jensens the problem with the washer.  Bio Food Safety as the auditor found no problems.

Representing 44 of those that were sicken or lost love ones due to Jensen cantaloupes, the attorney, Bill Marler is going after the auditor.  A win by Marler will set legal precedent.  Although he is the very best at what he does, Marler will be facing an uphill battle.  The auditor did not contract to Marler’s 44 to do the audit.  Because of this, the auditor will argue that they are not responsible to the 44 for the food safety issues missed by the audit.


You Can Kill Somebody

October 7, 2012

Yesterday’s post by Bill Marler really brought home the idea that failing to do the right thing could kill somebody.  The attorney and food safety advocate made the  connection between the death  of a tiny baby boy and someone at a cheese company  not doing their job.  The baby had died from the complications of his extremely premature birth.  The premature birth was induced by his mother’s listeriosis infection.  She had eaten listeria contaminated cheese.

 When you read the FDA or CFIA report following a food safety disaster you find that somebody just didn’t do their job.  The FDA finds cantaloupes are left sitting in dirty water at Jensen Farms and hens and their eggs are surrounded by salmonella laden feces at Wright County Egg.  In Canada at Maple Leaf Foods, CFIA finds a slicer coated with listeria.  The procedure called for the frequent cleaning of this slicer.  Unfortunately no one was checking to see if this was being done and even worse no one knew how to take the slicer apart.

Never in these investigations does it turn out to be one employee or a small group, it’s always the company’s management’s failure to do the right thing – to put in systems to assure proper cleaning, systems to assure that equipment is properly inspected, systems to assure employees are trained properly.

 During the investigation the FDA or CFIA investigator asks to see the person that is in charge of food safety and then a middle aged, middle manager degreed in food science or one of the natural sciences is pushed out.  The only people, he or she has authority over is the small team of technicians they manage.  Never when the question is asked does the CEO step up and say I’m the one that is responsible for food safety her.  I’m the one that if they don’t lead this company in the right way it could make a product that kills somebody.

Is Writing An Audit Report Overlooking Servere Food Safety Issues A Criminal Offense?

August 5, 2012

Last week Bill Marler had a post asking whether the Jensen brothers should face criminal charges for the deaths and illnesses caused by their listeria tainted cantaloupes.  The post includes the report from the FDA’s investigation.  The place was an absolute disaster.

 This brings another question to mind – is writing an audit report overlooking severe food safety issues a criminal offense?  The Jensens had been audited by Primus and none of the significant food safety issues found by the FDA came to light.  Did the auditors just miss the issues?  It’s possible.  Or did the auditors intentionally fail to report the food safety issues?  Intent in the future could separate the incompetent from the criminal.  Right now we are seeing auditors being pulled into the same liability litigation as those they audit.  Is it possible that in the future will we see auditors before the same court as their clients.


Was Jensen Farms Fooled By Stellar Audit Reports?

December 3, 2011

Before the massive recall, people at the Peanut Corporation of America knew things weren’t right and they were flirting with a real disaster and I am sure that at Wright County Eggs someone realized it’s not good to have mountains of chicken poop all around.  They weren’t fooled by their good audit reports from AIB.  Is it possible that the people at Jensen Farms truly believed the stellar audit reports from Primus?  Two years in a row they received reports that they had everything under control and were doing an excellent job.  The FDA comes in a finds significant causes for concern.  We will never know for sure, but this may have been a big surprise to the Jensen Farms people.