FDA: Detroit-based company distributing tainted sandwiches

Scotty's Incorporated accused of making ready-to-eat sandwiches 'under insanitary conditions'

DETROIT – The U.S. government wants to stop a Detroit company from distributing ready-to-eat sandwiches which, the government says, are tainted and could be a health hazard to those who eat them.

A civil complaint has been filed on behalf of the FDA claiming Scotty's Incorporated's sandwiches are manufactured "under insanitary conditions."

"Moreover, the company has failed to implement a written Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for handling seafood and minimizing the potential for harmful contamination in the company's ready-to-eat tuna sandwiches," reads a statement from the Justice Department.

The sandwiches can be purchased in vending machines and at gas stations or convenience stores.

The FDA inspected Scotty's facilities at 3426 Junction Street in Detroit, where the company prepares, packs, holds, and distributes ready-to-eat sandwiches, and also processes seafood, specifically tuna for tuna sandwiches. According to the complaint, the inspection between Jan. 14 and Feb. 6, 2014 found the sandwiches "have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health."

View: PDF of civil complaint against Scotty's

The FDA has inspected the facility several times since August 2006. The feds are seeking to stop distribution while citing a history of unsanitary conditions.

"Based on the company's previous failure to maintain sanitation controls, the FDA is taking action to protect public safety," said Melinda Plaisier, FDA associate commissioner of regulatory affairs, in a statement.

Owner says she runs clean operation, just behind on paperwork

Sandra Jackson owns the businesses where Bruce Enterprises (Scotty's official business name) has been making sandwiches for more 50 years. Seven employees make and wrap 7,000 sandwiches each day. The food is sold at gas stations all over metro Detroit.

If the FDA claims public safety is at risk, then why is Jackson's company allowed to keep selling sandwiches? Jackson said it's not a sanitation issue, but instead a paperwork problem. They haven't kept up with a written plan on how they handle food. It's something they're working to fix.

Moreover, Jackson said if the feds worked with her more they would know she doesn't sell tuna.

"We haven't sold tuna in a year and 1/2," she said.

Local 4 reporter Karen Drew did an investigative piece about Scotty's Incorporated in 2003 which focused on how the company was distributing sandwiches in an unrefrigerated truck. Jackson said their refrigerator truck had been stolen. She said she runs a clean operation with cold coolers and trucks.

"No one has ever gotten sick or complained," said Jackson.

The FDA and Justice Department both said they have not received complaints about the quality of the sandwiches.

Watch the 2003 report here:


About the Authors:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.