Del Monte will pay a $100,000 fine within thirty days, and more later if it does not live up to the conditions of probation, for violations of the Vidalia® Onion Act of 1986, says Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin.
Fresh Del Monte Produce was charged with packing, bagging and labeling 1,920 five-pound bags of foreign grown onions as Vidalia® onions in January and February of this year and shipping them from its Helena, Georgia facility to one of its facilities in Plant City, Florida.
”The company recovered all but 400 bags of the illegally identified onions and was assessed a fine for those bags,” said Commissioner Irvin. ”Del Monte has been very cooperative during this investigation and wants to protect its relationship with Vidalia® onions and the consumer.”
Company officials signed a consent order late Thursday (March 15) agreeing to the $400,000 assessed fine, a 24-month probation and suspension of all but the $100,000 payable portion of the monetary penalty, if all terms and conditions are met.
In addition to complying with all provisions, rules and regulations pertaining to the Georgia Food Act and the use of the Vidalia® onion label, the company must arrange with the Georgia Federal-State Shipping Point Inspection Service, Inc. to provide inspectors to inspect all of its packing of all Vidalia® onions and keep all Vidalia® Onion labeling materials secure at all times when not in actual use to prevent inadvertent mislabeling.
In 1986, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Vidalia® Onion Act, which states that only onions which are of an approved Vidalia® onion variety and which are grown in the Vidalia® onion production area may be identified, classified, packaged, labeled or otherwise designated for sale inside or outside Georgia as Vidalia® onions.