The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed actions against two grower-shippers it says shipped sweet potatoes that were grown in one state but were labeled as coming from another.
On Oct. 23, the USDA announced Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act administrative actions against Sirmon Produce Inc., Daphne, Ala.; and Bruce, Miss.-based Missiana Produce Inc., according to a USDA news release.
The complaint against Sirmon alleges that in 2008, the company shipped 35,788 boxes of sweet potatoes that were grown in Alabama but were labeled as having been grown in Louisiana.
The complaint against Missiana alleges that in 2008, the company shipped 3,850 boxes of sweet potatoes that were grown in Mississippi but were labeled as having been grown in Louisiana.
Steve McCarron, a Washington, D.C.-based PACA attorney representing Missiana, said the company has filed an answer contesting the USDA’s charge.
In the case in question, Missiana was a packer only, not a buyer or seller of the sweet potatoes, McCarron said. And he said he has never heard of a packer being found guilty of such a claim.
Officials from Sirmon did not return calls for comment.
A company found guilty of such an offense could have its PACA license suspended for 60 days, and company principals could be banned from employment or affiliation with a PACA licensee for 60 days.