The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Wednesday it has filed an administrative complaint against Hood River Juice Company Inc., which manufactures organic beverages under the Ryan’s Juice brand.
The federal agency said the Hood River, Ore.-based company, which was certified organic in 2010 by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), “allegedly failed to make payment promptly” to 12 produce sellers in the amount of $3.6 million from November 2014 through February 2019.
Hood River Juice owner David Ryan told Sustainable Food News that “there is merit” to the USDA’s allegations but that “there has been good relationships with every one of those people [suppliers].”
Ryan said he was unsure how the USDA initially got involved and did not know if any specific supplier had complained to the federal agency.
The USDA said the complaint was filed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and that Hood River Juice will have an opportunity to request a hearing.
Ryan said he will be filing an initial response to the USDA’s determination and that he seeks to understand “what was the cause and how do we fix it.”
The USDA will decide whether a hearing will be provided to the company.
“Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry as a licensee for three years, or two years with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond,” the USDA said. “Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for two years, or one year with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.”
In 2018, Hood River Juice had received an FDA warning letter over its practice of blending batches of apple juice that contained violative levels of patulin, a mycotoxin produced by a variety of molds and is most commonly found in rotting apples.