Native American Enterprises Issues Public Reponse to FDA, DOJ Allegations
Following a civil complaint against Native American Enterprises LLC (NAE) filed in federal court by the U.S. Department of Justice, the company wants to let the public know that the company is open for business and plans to stay that way.
While the company has yet to respond to the government’s civil complaint in court, it is striking back at the allegations in the court of public opinion. The company, which conducts business as Native American Foods, predicts a quick resolution, stating that it has already complied with the injunctive relief sought in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) complaint.
The company goes on to clarify that, while it does have military and school customers, none of the products regulated by the FDA named in the complaint are distributed to those customers.
The Wichita, Kansas company issued a release saying “unequivocally that no product contaminated with Listeria or other harmful bacteria has been sold or transferred to any customer of NAE or other member of the public.”
Company Largely Governed by USDA, Not FDA
NAE mainly produces meat-filled food products. These meat-based products are under daily inspection authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which does not have any role in the current court action.
Native American Foods, a family business jointly owned by Lower Brule Sioux Tribe members and brothers Scott and William McGreevy, also produces meatless and refried beans and sauces. These beans and sauces fall under the regulatory auspices of the FDA, and as such as subject to periodic FDA inspections.
It was one such inspection that gave rise to the current FDA and Department of Justice allegations.
Contaminated Environment, Uncontaminated Beans
The foundation was formed for the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas when the FDA inspected the company’s facilities in August 2015. In the course of the inspection, FDA agents took environmental samples from the areas designated for packaging refried beans and sauces.
At first glance, results of those tests were alarming. 39 of the 100 environmental samples taken at the NAE facilities tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, and five other samples tested positive for other strains of the bacteria. The FDA alleges that because Listeria can survive and thrive in high-salt or refrigerated environments, the NAE-produced beans and sauces pose a significant threat to public health.
Native American Foods accurately points out that none of the foods themselves tested positive for Listeria; only environmental testing yielded positive results. NAE emphatically says that it does “not introduce, and has not introduced, any food into commerce which is unadulterated, contaminated or unsafe in any way.”
The company also released information indicating that when Listeria was found during testing of Native American Enterprise facilities, the company took remedial actions. The corrective actions were carried out by third-party independent experts, says the company, but did not get communicated to the FDA. Steps taken by the company included resolving building maintenance issues and enhancing sanitation and cleaning protocols.
The complaint has been assigned to chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Kansas, J. Thomas Marten. Subsequent the last update on this matter by Food Poisoning News, the named defendants in the case – the company, William N. McGreevy and Robert C. Conner – have retained the counsel of Wichita attorney Carl Maughan.