Prosecutors Charge Scheme to Sell Tainted Tomatoes

The New York Times reports on widespread corruption in food-buying practices at major companies like Safeway, Kraft and Frito-Lay. The article focuses on evidence in the trial of Frederick Scott Salyer, owner of California-based tomato processor SK Foods. From the article:

The scheme, as laid out by federal prosecutors, has two parts. Officials say that Mr. Salyer and others at SK Foods greased the palms of a handful of corporate buyers in exchange for lucrative contracts and confidential information on bids submitted by competitors. This most likely drove up ingredient prices for the big food companies.

In addition, prosecutors say that for years, SK Foods shipped its customers millions of pounds of bulk tomato paste and puree that fell short of basic quality standards — with falsified documentation to mask the problems. Often that meant mold counts so high the sale should have been prohibited under federal law; at other times it involved breaching specifications in the sales contracts, such as acidity levels or the age of the product.

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Matthew Richmond is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

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