Pathogen in Mighty Taco’s bean-linked outbreak still unknown; supplier named

Mighty Taco, a Western NY fast food chain is home of the uh, mighty tacos, and over 140 illnesses linked to refried beans.

According to TWC news, Mighty Taco named Pellegrino Food Products Co. as their bean supplier.mighty-taco-gusto-web-2-can-1100x733

On Thursday, Mighty Taco named Pennsylvania company Pellegrino Food Products as the manufacturer of the bad beans. At least 142 people in Erie and Niagara counties who ate those beans between Sept. 23 and Oct. 6 complained of nausea and vomiting. No one has reported getting sick since Mighty Taco removed the beans.

The company also took to Facebook Thursday night to answer common questions that many customers had and ensured them this was a “isolated and unprecedented situation that we have not encountered in our 43 year history of serving the Western New York public.”

“Pellegrino Food Products Co., Inc. stands behind the quality of all of its products and takes food safety issues very seriously. Refried beans are manufactured exclusively for Mighty Taco. To Pellegrino Food’s knowledge, no root cause has yet been determined of the reported illnesses, and we are actively working with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in its investigation,” Pellegrino Foods Production Co. said in a statement.

Pellegrino Food Products website doesn’t say anything about the outbreak but does include this,

Our company started out in a small grocery store, where my parents sold peppers as a specialty item to hunters. We were the originator of the recipe to sell peppers in tomato sauce. Now, we’re a USDA and FDA approved food processing company. It’s still a family business with the same quality standards we had when we started.


5 sick: Was it the refried beans at Mighty Taco

Business was brisk Thursday night at the Mighty Taco location on Military Road — despite reports that several local health agencies were investigating the regional restaurant chain.

might-tacoOfficials with the Niagara County Department of Health announced Thursday afternoon that they are looking into reports of illness possibly associated with Mighty Taco restaurants. 

The investigation is being conducted jointly with the New York State Department of Health, Erie County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

Russell Jasulevich, Mighty Taco’s CEO, said on the company’s website that five customers from four store locations recently reported illness concerns after eating at the restaurant chain.

The complaints came from customers at four different locations in Erie County.

They ate at the restaurants sometime between Saturday and Tuesday, according to the New York State Department of Health.

“The focus has now turned to the New York State Department of Health testing an isolated batch of refried beans provided by a third-party supplier for any possible cause,” Jasulevich wrote. “There are no conclusive results at this time but, in an abundance of caution, Mighty Taco has voluntarily removed that sole suspect batch of refried beans from our stores and that batch is no longer available to customers.

For the past few days, added Jasulevich, the restaurant chain has been working “both internally and with the Erie County Health Department to investigate illness concerns expressed by a small number of customers.”

Not everything is wrong in Kansas (just most things): FDA takes action against food manufacturer for Listeria violations

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas entered a consent decree of permanent injunction today between the United States and Native American Enterprises, LLC, located in Wichita, Kansas; its part-owner, William N. McGreevy; and its production manager, Robert C. Conner.

Native American Enterprises.beansThe U.S. Department of Justice brought the action on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for significant and ongoing violations of federal food safety laws and regulations. The complaint alleges that the company’s ready-to-eat (RTE) refried beans and sauces are adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under unsanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.  

Native American Enterprises, LLC is a manufacturer and distributor of a variety of food, including RTE refried beans and sauces falling under FDA jurisdiction. The consent decree prevents the company from selling FDA-regulated products until it comes into compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act).

The FDA issued a letter to Native American Enterprises, LLC in August 2013 warning the company to promptly correct its violations or potentially face legal action. The FDA conducted several follow-up inspections of the company’s food processing facility and continued to observe unsanitary conditions at the facility, including unsanitary employee practices and persistent strains of Listeria Monocytogenes(L. mono), a dangerous human pathogen that can cause listeriosis, a life-threatening illness. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women, and developing fetuses are particularly susceptible to listeriosis.

The FDA used Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to identify persistent strains of L. mono at Native American Enterprises, LLC. WGS technology can show the relationship among isolates of bacterial pathogens found in the environment, a food source, or a person who became ill from consuming contaminated food.

“When a company repeatedly violates food safety laws and procedures they are putting the public at serious risk,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA took action against Native American Enterprises, LLC to protect public health, and as a result, the company’s adulterated food products are prevented from entering the marketplace.”

Native American EnterprisesUnder the consent decree, the company cannot prepare, process, manufacture, pack, and/or label FDA-regulated food products until it demonstrates that its facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination. Native American Enterprises, LLC must, among other things, retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze samples for the presence of L. mono, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to control L. mono and to eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility. Should the company be permitted to resume operations in the future, the FDA maintains oversight over such operations under this consent decree and may order the company to take corrective actions if the agency discovers further food safety violations.

To date, no illnesses have been reported from Native American Enterprises, LLC’s products. Individuals who have eaten products purchased from the company should contact a health care professional if they experience any symptoms of listeriosis.  In addition, consumers are encouraged to contact the FDA to report problems with FDA-regulated products.

The company also manufactures meat and poultry products, which fall under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations. While the consent decree does not apply to USDA-regulated products, the FDA and USDA FSIS have and will continue to work closely together. USDA FSIS recently performed an investigation at the establishment and the company is currently operating under an FSIS enforcement verification plan when producing USDA-regulated products.