March 7, 2009

Health concerns stop tortilla production

All tortilla production at a Chicago plant has been halted amid concerns the food items were responsible for illness outbreaks in two states, officials say.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Lorenzen said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Del Rey Tortilleria to stop producing tortilla products until federal regulators can confirm the company's plant meets health regulations, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

A government lawsuit linked the Chicago plant to outbreaks in Massachusetts and Wisconsin of flu-like illnesses among schoolchildren.

The suit said the government had concerns about production conditions at the plant, which allegedly including the storage of raw ingredients in paint buckets.

It was serious enough that the (Food and Drug Administration) thought it was important that they stop making tortillas until the company comes into compliance, Lorenzen said of such concerns.

Del Rey attorney Robert Orman told the Tribune the company was doing everything it can to rectify the situation, including correcting violations and developing a sanitary food-processing system.