FDA reaches deal to end litigation with company that sold schools apple juice with high levels of Arsenic

On January 14, 2021, the FDA entered into a Consent Decree with Valley Processing, Inc. to put an end to litigation stemming from allegations that the Sunnyside, Washington based firm had sold millions of servings of apple juice with high levels of arsenic to children pursuant to the USDA school lunch program. According to the complaint, FDA inspectors found multiple instances of the company processing juice under “grossly unsanitary conditions.” By way of example, during the July 2018 inspection, FDA investigators learned that the company was storing grape juice outside in barrels at ambient temperatures. Many of these barrels contained grape juice concentrate that was several years old, with some lot codes dating back to 2008. As confirmed by FDA sampling, the grape juice concentrate in these barrels was contaminated by filth and mold, and thus not suitable for human consumption. FDA testing also determined that the company’s apple juice contained high levels of both inorganic arsenic as well as patulin. According to the FDA, exposure to inorganic arsenic has been associated with cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes in humans. Further, exposure to high level of patulin may pose health hazards such as nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal disturbances. 

As part of the consent decree, Valley Processing must destroy all its remaining stocks of juices and obtain a certification from a sanitation expert before it may begin selling its juice again. 

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About Timothy J. Peter

Timothy J. Peter is a Partner in Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP's Pennsylvania office and Chair of the firm's Consumer Protection Litigation Practice Group.

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