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When it starts to fall apart it really falls apart: McCain Foods closes California facility responsible for 2018’s largest food safety recall



On Oct. 14, 2018, McCain Foods initiated a creeping crawling outbreak of processing vegetables from its Colton Calif. plant that lasted six weeks.

Now that plant has been closed.

Early in Jan., 2019, Sam Bloch of New Food Economy wrote that the Colton facility produced commercial ingredients—the invisible mortar of the food system.

You might not know McCain, but you’ve probably eaten its food. The multi-billion-dollar foodservice corporation, based in Toronto, Ontario (that’s in Canada), manufactures frozen foods—primarily potatoes, but also fruits and vegetables, pizzas, juices, and various oven meals—in 53 plants around the world.

(Bloch writes that McCain brags that one in every four French fries eaten globally is McCain. Bloch could have done a little digging and found that the McCain family are an on-going soap-opera of Machiavellian proportions, in Canadian terms, rivalled only by the Seagram family who made their fortune running booze to the U.S. during U.S. Prohibition. Oh, and the McCain family also killed genetically-engineered Bt potatoes which would have offered some chemical relief to the steams and environment, especially in Eastern Canada, but that’s another story. Back to the veggies).

In October a number of grocery stores, from Whole Foods to Walmart, pulled thousands of branded salads, wraps and burritos, from their shelves, out of concern over roasted corn and onion ingredients that may have been contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Combined, the McCain recalls will affect over 99 million pounds of food.

Now Bloch writes McCain has closed its Colton, California plant, which had processed the vegetables, including chopped onions, peppers, and roasted corn, and sold them as ingredients to commercial kitchens and food manufacturers all over the country. The recalls spread to what seemed like every aisle of the supermarket, from prepackaged salads at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to cheese dips and frozen Kashi grain bowls. The total amount of product affected exceeds 100 million pounds, making it the largest recall of 2018, and perhaps of recent memory.

McCain announced the plant’s closure on January 11, which, according to a statement from the company, will result in layoffs for 100 employees. In an email to The New Food Economy, Andrea Davis, a McCain spokeswoman confirmed the recall influenced the decision to close the plant,but said there were other factors involved.

“The product mix produced at the Colton facility does not support the changing needs of our portfolio,” Davis wrote. “While the recent recall was one consideration, the decision to permanently close the facility was ultimately a business decision.”

It is not clear exactly when the plant will be closed, and McCain representatives could not be reached for further comment by press time.

The facility in question had a history of food safety violations.

Of course they did.