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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Food Safety Modernization Act Whistleblower Case Filed in Federal Court

Food Integrity Campaign | June 12, 2013

(Washington, DC) – In a complaint filed in federal court, a former employee of Brothers International Food Corporation alleges the New York-based food and beverage company violated FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) whistleblower provision.

Colin Chase, former Director of eCommerce at Brothers’ Rochester, New York headquarters, was terminated in July 2012 after raising safety and health concerns regarding the redating and sale of expired food products, such as Potato Crisps and Fruit Crisps (including the “Disney” line of fruit crisps marketed to toddlers), as well as the sale of improperly rehydrated Fuji Apple Crisps.

According to the complaint, when Chase alerted management to a batch of expired potato crisps that were being sold online, he was told that their sale would stop until “new expiration dates” were put on and to tell customers that the reason for the redating was that it had originally been dated for sale in Europe, even though it was known that Brothers’ products were not being sold in Europe at that time.

Chase also inquired whether “soggy” apple products being sold were vulnerable to bacterial contamination, to which a CEO responded that the “bad” batch would continue to be sold through September 2012 and any complaining customers should receive a 50 percent off coupon toward a future purchase.

A short time after Chase initially raised concerns, Brothers began to require employees to sign non-disclosure agreements as a term of continued employment. When Chase indicated he would not sign the agreement without first meeting with his attorney, Brothers immediately terminated and escorted him off the premises.

GAP Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) Director Amanda Hitt stated: “The whistleblower protections included in FSMA, which GAP helped to enact, are aimed at ensuring that food safety concerns such as the ones raised by Chase, are heard.”

A number of FSMA cases have been brought forward since the legislation became law in 2011, but this is the first complaint to appear in federal court. Chase’s attorney, Elizabeth Cordello, Esq., at Underberg & Kessler LLP filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.

Sarah Damian, GAP New Media Associate
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 130

Contact: Amanda Hitt, GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 159

Contact: Elizabeth Cordello, Esq., Underberg & Kessler LLP
Phone: 585.258.2805

Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.