COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A Pennsylvania-based company diluted spices sold to prisons across the country, federal prosecutors in South Carolina said.
According to the false claims lawsuit filed last week, FlavorPros LLC cut spices with flour, starch and other fillers to underbid competitors for $500,000 in federal procurement contracts, The Post and Courier reported .
FlavorPros was owned by Charlene Brach of Warren, New Jersey. She was charged last year with adulterating and misbranding spices sold to 122 prisons nationwide. Brach denied guilt on Tuesday and said her company wouldn't have been responsible if spices were diluted.
"I'm not guilty at all," she told the South Carolina newspaper.
An affiliated company, Artisan Foods LLC, later won a contract to supply salad dressing to Federal Medical Center, Rochester in Minnesota.
Creamy Italian dressing delivered to the Minnesota facility in October 2018 was labeled Artisan Foods with a "best by" date of October 2019. But after peeling back the label, authorities discovered that the dressing was from FlavorPros and had a "best by" date from the past — July 2018, prosecutors said.
"Artisan Foods not only disguised the source of the dressing, but Artisan Foods also doctored the 'best by' date to conceal that the salad dressing was expired," prosecutors state in the federal complaint.
Neither FlavorPros nor Artisan Foods immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press requesting comment.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com