Posted on November 19, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

Co-packer snafu leads to Nat’l Organic Program settlement for Albert Bartlett USA

Albert Bartlett USA to remove all Cinacia labels and packaging from co-packer and subcontractor facilities

Major frozen potato processor Albert Bartlett USA Inc. has signed a settlement agreement with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) over noncompliance with federal organic regulations relating to its co-packers and subcontractors.

The NOP on Monday did not disclose the specific reason for the settlement agreement but did share a few details.

Albert Bartlett USA, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., is a subsidiary of Albert Bartlett & Sons (Airdrie) Ltd., the leading fresh and frozen potato brand in the United Kingdom. The American operations were established in 2012 and certified organic by SCS Global Services Inc. in October 2017.

The company agreed to submit an updated Organic System Plan (OSP) to its SCS within 30 days, identifying all certified products and products it plans to certify, as well as all current and prospective co-packers and subcontractors.

Bartlett also agreed to provide a final report on its efforts to remove all Cinacia labels and packaging from co-packer and subcontractor facilities. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Robinson Fresh,  a division of publicly traded C.H. Robinson (Nasdaq: CHRW), based in Eden Prairie, Minn., had been named the exclusive provider of Albert Bartlett potatoes in North America in 2017. However, a Robinson spokesperson told Sustainable Food News on Tuesday that the company is “no longer exclusive with Albert Bartlett.”

In addition, the company agreed to ensure its co-packers and subcontractors use only certifier-approved product labels, and identify all co-packers and subcontractors in its OSP and seek SCS’s approval before using the companies’ services.

Other measures Bartlett agreed to as part of the settlement include:

  • respond to certifier requests on time
  • seek certifier approval before deviating from its OSP
  • only market, represent, label or sell products as organic if the product is listed on its OSP and approved for certification
  • use only certifier-approved product labels
  • submit within 60 days procedures for preventing the use of unapproved labels
  • undergo an unannounced inspection within one year

The NOP said it executes settlement agreements “as alternatives to administrative proceedings that may result in suspension or revocation of certification” and to bring certified-organic operators into full compliance “in a fast and efficient manner.”

In contrast to disclosures of settlement agreements prior to 2018, the NOP’s reporting format for settlement agreements does not include an electronic PDF file of the actual settlement nor does it include the amounts of civil penalties the companies had agreed to pay.

Meanwhile, the NOP also announced on Monday three additional settlement agreements, including:

Toufayan Bakery of Florida, Inc. of Orlando, Fla.: The company agreed to:

  • submit all documentation on time
  • maintain updated certificates and other required documentation for its suppliers
  • abide by all plans submitted to its certifier, including input documentation, to ensure full product traceability

Southern Tier Pet Nutrition, LLC of Sherburne, N.Y.: The company agreed to:

  • submit any outstanding documentation required under the March 2019 settlement agreement within 30 days
  • for the next two years, submit all documentation required by its certifier on time, including the documents addressed in the March 2019 noncompliance and settlement agreement

Summer Wind Farms, LLC of New Field, N.J.: The company agreed to:

  • for the next three years, submit its annual certification renewal application, required documentation and fees on time
  • pay all certifier-issued invoices on time and delinquent fees within 30 days
  • respond to all certifier requests on time

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