Sorry, Charlie-san?

Sadly, there have been a lot of stories about contaminated food in our country. Part of this rise in reporting on this topic at The Bachelor’s Kitchen is due to our subscription to Food Safety News, which gives us a daily update on happenings in this field. The fact that there is at least one story a day involving some sort of recall or other problem is frightening.

Now, we have a release from the Food and Drug Administration that StarKist canned and pouch tuna could be “adulterated.” We’re not exactly sure what that means, and that’s part of the problem. The FDA sent inspectors to American Samoa to look at the StarKist canning facility there and came away with serious concerns. The agency says these concerns are serious enough to possibly result in an involuntary recall of all the company’s products.

What is this all about? The FDA wanted to look at certain records of operations at the Samoan plant to make sure all proper safety and health procedures were being followed. The company, now owned by a Korean corporation, refused to give copies of the records to the FDA. StarKist says those records are not part of the food safety inspection process and that there’s nothing wrong with their products. But the FDA says it has found some problems with pouched tuna not being properly sealed and some canned tuna that might not reach high enough temperature during packing to kill all possible contaminants. The agency wants the records to ensure there isn’t a problem in the plant’s procedures or equipment.

Background. StarKist is headquartered in this country in Pittsburgh. It used to be owned by San Francisco based Del Monte Foods. It was sold to Dongwon Industries of South Korea, the largest canned tuna business in the world, two years ago. Samoans are not happy about the company’s takeover of the processing plant in the South Pacific American territory because employment has been slashed in half. Dongwon is also in a vicious dispute with the Samoan power company.

Recommendation. As we all know, this is not the first time the tuna industry has faced problems. The Natural Resources Defense Council is already recommending that people, especially pregnant women and young children, should reduce their consumption of tuna because of mercury poisoning. With all the many brands of tuna available, we here at The Bachelor’s Kitchen will be choosing another brand and keeping our consumption of tuna to only a couple times a month. There are many other fish and seafood choices available.

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