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Moldy Food Reprocessed and Packaged for Human Consumption? Frighteningly, it’s True.

It’s a terrifying thought: a food company taking moldy food, reprocessing the rotten fare, and putting it back on the shelves for human consumption.

But that is exactly what has been happening. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys were concerned to read that the FDA released a statement saying that in at least eight instances last year, the food products manufacturer Snokist had reprocessed moldy applesauce and repackaged it for sale.

Snokist is an American fruit-processing corporation out of Washington state. Snokist products include processed baby foods, and processed fruit products that are distributed to schools across the nation for school lunches. In 2010, Snokist sold more than 3.3 million cases of processed fruit, representing sales of more than $53 million.

Last year, the FDA recalled Snokist applesauce from the nation’s schools after the products were cited as the cause of illnesses in school children who had consumed the applesauce at school. However this latest bad act is an entirely separate issue.

According to MSNBC, this latest violation was brought to the FDA’s attention during an inspection of Snokist’s packaging plant when officials noticed that “large, laminated bags of fruit products that were supposed to be sealed and sterile, instead were broken open and tainted with white, brown, blue, blue-green and black mold.” As per the FDA’s report, the investigation was instituted after a baby-food manufacturer returned dozens of bags of Snokist fruit because the fruit was infected with “a large amount of mold.”

In response to the recent reports, Snokist officials have admitted to “reworking” some of the moldy fruit for remarketing. Nevertheless, company officials also claimed that when moldy food is used, the ‘compromised’ part of the fruit is generally separated and destroyed, and the rest of the foodstuffs are heated to kill potential contaminants.

However, the FDA has stated that the tests Snokist uses to ensure the safety of the food during this process is not adequate. The FDA’s statement read: “Most mycotoxins are stable compounds that are not destroyed by heat treatment.”

FDA officials posted a warning letter to Snokist, regarding the fact that the company cannot ensure the safety of moldy applesauce and fruit puree that has been reconditioned for human consumption, and therefore is not allowed to disseminate it for public consumption.

Although there are some FDA regulations that allow food-processing companies to “recondition” food, the final product that is put on the market must be free from contamination. Additionally, contaminated product cannot be mixed into safe product to create more substance with passable levels of contamination.

Illinois product liability law requires that when corporations put a product on the market, they are responsible for ensuring that the product is safe for consumer use. This is especially true for food manufacturers whose merchandise has to be thoroughly inspected before it is allowed to be distributed to the public. When dangerous or contaminated foods harm consumers, the corporations may be liable for the injuries caused and may be legally responsible for damages caused by those injuries. This may give rise to an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.

The types of molds found in the Snokist fruit included Alternaria, Fusarium and two types of Pennicillium, all of which can cause illness in people. If you or a loved one have been sickened by a food product, seek immediate medical attention. Special laws are in place to protect consumers, and you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.