Food

Production plant crawling with insects; workers use food off floor in products

By News Desk on March 18, 2019
Federal officials have put a New Mexico food producer on notice for unresolved violations documented in 2005, 2009, 2016 and 2018. Inspectors found Ruben’s Inc. was crawling with insects, did not have adequate plumbing, and was generally filthy.

“. . . Live and app, rent dead cockroaches, spiders, ants, and bugs, in various stages of lifecycle were observed in the receiving, processing, dry storage, restrooms, and office areas,” according to an FDA warning letter sent Nov. 6, 2018, to company president David Garcia.

“Additionally, pests were observed crawling across floors, up walls, in and out of crevices in the walls and floors, on the ceiling, trapped in mailing tape near light switches, at the handwashing station, on food contact surfaces, on a conveyor belt, and on the ceiling directly above the (redacted by FDA) grinder and (redacted by FDA) fryer. Apparent rodent like droppings was also observed in the corners of the dry storage area. This was a repeat observation from the inspections in 2016 and 2005.”

Inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration also reported the producer of Mexican cuisine did not maintain employee restrooms. They found filth, urine odors, discolored handwashing sinks and no toilet paper in the women’s room. These were repeat observations from an inspection in 2009, according to the warning letter.

Ruben’s Inc. also earned violations for illegal use of non-food grade equipment in food production areas, including hoses used to fill food production machines that were left on the floor between uses. Inspectors observed dirty, pooling water in numerous locations at the production facility. The FDA warned Ruben’s officials about this problem in 2009.

Inspectors also documented problems with employees’ work practices.

“Employees touched the outside of large nonfood grade white (redacted by FDA) trash cans covered in a black mold type debris which contained rinsed/cooled chiles. The employees then peeled the chiles without washing their hands after touching the black mold type debris,” according to the warning letter.

“Chiles fell onto the dirty floor and were picked up by employees and placed into the rinse/cooling tank with other roasted chiles.”

Additional violations included:

Failure to clean food-contact surfaces as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food as required by 21 CFR 110.35(d). Specifically, the (redacted by FDA) grinder had red chile paste leftover from the last production run between the (redacted by FDA), and the (redacted by FDA) had an accumulation of red chile flakes located near the front of the equipment.

Failure to maintain physical facilities in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated as required by 21 CFR 110.35(a). The ceiling in the walk-in freezer, which holds prepared foods including chile rellenos and other ingredients, as well as the processing area are not maintained in sufficient repair. For example:

Wall tiles are missing, and paint is flaking off the pipes and walls in the processing area.
The condensation unit in the walk-in freezer storage area was leaking, and an accumulation of ice build-up was observed on the floor directly adjacent to the finished red chile product.
Several tiles were missing on the production floor. Water was pooling on the floor where pipes were missing/broken.
(redacted by FDA) Hand washing sink is in the production area, which leaked water onto the floor when turned on. The right surrounding areas such as floor, wall, paper towel dispenser and soap dispenser handles were dirty. Additionally, the story had a build-up of thick grime near foot pedals.
An accumulation of black debris and grime on support poles, light switches, and plastic curtains was observed between rooms and the walk-in refrigerator.
Lights directly over the chile peeling area were not working, and ceiling tiles were missing directly adjacent to non-functioning lights.
Failure to manufacture and store foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination, as required by 21 CFR 110.80(b)(2). For example:

Uncovered chile relleno products were observed in the walk-in freezer. The ceiling directly above the uncovered products displayed an accumulation of condensation drops and peeling paint.
Uncovered masa product was observed in the walk-in refrigerator. We found a robust moldy type odor in the walk-in refrigerator near a puddle of white liquid on the floor
We watched an employee push an open rack of green chile from the walk-in freezer into the production area. The sides and the top layer of green chile came in direct contact with a (redacted by FDA) curtain which appeared to be soiled with red chile debris and grime.
Failure to maintain equipment, containers, and utensils used to convey and hold food in a manner that protects against contamination as required by 21 CFR 110.80(b)(7). For example, we observed clear mailing tape used to secure a (redacted by FDA) funnel to a dirty handle. This is used to convey the posole into the final packaging bags.

Failure to maintain equipment, containers, and utensils used to convey and hold food in a manner that protects against contamination as required by 21 CFR 110.80(b)(7). For example, we observed clear mailing tape used to secure a (redacted by FDA) funnel to a dirty handle. This is used to convey the posole into the final packaging bags.

Duane Simpson

Internet fan. Zombie aficionado. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Alcohol enthusiast. Spent several months exporting UFOs in Jacksonville, FL. A real dynamo when it comes to exporting gravy in Tampa, FL. Spent 2001-2004 implementing saliva in Edison, NJ. Had moderate success getting my feet wet with junk food on Wall Street. Practiced in the art of building Virgin Mary figurines in Tampa, FL. Practiced in the art of marketing Roombas in Phoenix, AZ.

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