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So this is what happens when you allow the food industry to "self-regulate", and remove the ability of the federal government to keep our food supply safe.

Calif. Exec Pleads Guilty To Tomato Price-Fixing

More below the ever-ripening tomato vine thingy....

The main focus of the wire story is about the executive of a food company pleading guilty to charges of bribery and price-fixing:

Frederick Scott Salyer, 56, was charged with bribing purchasing managers to buy tomato products from his company, Monterey-based SK Foods. Prosecutors say he fixed prices and rigged bids for the sale of tomato products to McCain Foods USA Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc.

Salyer pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento to two charges: racketeering and price fixing. The charges carry maximum 20-year prison sentences, although Salyer is expected to face four to seven years behind bars at his sentencing scheduled for July 10. He remains free on $6 million bail.

If this were just another in a long line of stories about company executives cheating to gain market share, I would have passed on to the next story quickly. But then there was this:
He also admitted that SK Foods routinely falsified the lab test results for its tomato paste and that he ordered former employees to falsify data, including the product's mold content and whether it qualified as "organic," the U.S. attorney's office said.
Bad enough--falsifying lab results puts the public's trust in the food supply in jeopardy.  But it wasn't just a small California company which took part in these schemes:
Buyers from Kraft, Frito-Lay Inc., Safeway Inc. and B&G Foods Inc. have pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in the case. In all, 10 former employees or customers of SK Foods have pleaded guilty in the investigation.
(B&G Foods Inc owns a number of brands, including Cream of Wheat, Las Palmas, Ortega and Vermont Maid.)

Bottom line:  what you buy in the grocery store or corner market labeled "Organic" may be anything but, and may contain levels of mold and other contaminants above what is considered safe for human consumption.

Nice to know that, if the GOP and its Teabagger contingent gains control of our government, their drive to "get job-killing regulation out of the way" may result in more of these kinds of corruption.

Originally posted to rfall on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM PDT.

Also republished by Environmental Foodies.

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