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Turkey Firm Admits Adding Water to Meat

September 11, 1986|United Press International

SALT LAKE CITY — Norbest Inc., the nation's largest turkey-marketing firm, admitted today that its workers swapped water for meat in turkey products destined for school lunch programs and will pay $750,000 in fines and restitution.

Company officials pleaded guilty to one count of economic adulteration of 1,600 pounds of meat and a second count of theft of government property: turkey meat the government had donated to public schools.

"To my knowledge, this is the first federal prosecution of a corporation for adulteration of food and fraud, so it's a landmark case," said Richard Lambert, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Last fall the federal government began investigating allegations that Norbest's Salina, Utah, plant used spoiled meat and replaced meat with water or ice in turkey breast, turkey ham, turkey pastrami, turkey salami, turkey bologna and turkey franks destined for school lunch programs.

Between Sept. 26 and Dec. 4, 1985, the Agriculture Department said it purchased 516,000 pounds of turkey roasts and processed turkey from the Norpro Turkey Growers Assn. plant.

On Dec. 6, Agriculture Secretary John R. Block ordered a ban on school lunch use of products from Norbest's Utah turkey plant. That ban has since been lifted.

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