A Los Angeles grocery store chain found itself looking more like the Grinch than Santa Claus this winter when an ingredient it sold for a traditional holiday meal turned out to be rotten. Hundreds of customers demanded refunds, complaining that something was wrong with the masa they’d purchased from the Amapola market in Downey.
The problem, customers said, ruined numerous holiday meals and in some cases made customers or their family members sick. The company has said that it will give refunds to affected customers, but the rotten ingredient resulted in some families not having any food on the table at Christmas.
Bad Masa the Problem
The main ingredient in the affected people’s traditional Christmas tamales, masa, caused their tamales to turn out inedible. No one seems quite sure what happened, but the masa sold at Amapola’s Downey store two days before Christmas seems to have been the bad batch.
The company said it believes that particular masa was made from a batch of “defective corn” sold to it by a longtime supplier. Amapola has stated that it doesn’t believe there are any health risks from the bad masa, it’s just low-quality and tastes bad. A company executive issued an apology and promised that refunds would be made to all affected customers.
Due to both the festive nature and size of the holiday tamale meal, as well as the fact that some customers buy masa from Amapola for tamales that they make and sell on to others, many of the refunds are not pocket change.
A local reporter talked with customers who had spent between $150 and $400 on masa at the store, and at least one of these had gone on to lose important holiday business because the tamales she’d made could not be sold. Amapola, in fact, ran out of cash on the first day it was giving refunds.
Food Safety Always a Concern
Overall, the United States has a very safe food production and distribution system, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent problem-free. In fact, it’s not uncommon for there to be more than one recall in a single day, although many of these aren’t because the food is contaminated, but instead because the ingredient labels are incomplete and might not show possible allergens. A situation with outright bad or spoiled food, such as the Amapola masa, is less common.
Sometimes the problem is bacterial contamination, as happened in a number of Chipotle restaurants in 2015. More than 500 people became ill in those incidents, and close to 100 received financial compensation from Chipotle. Similar to the Amapola case, many of those Chipotle customers remained loyal to the restaurant, despite the illness it caused them.
Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer
The Amapola masa case seems so far to have caused no serious or permanent harm. But other cases of bad food products don’t always end that way. Sometimes people are seriously injured or even die because of contaminated food products.
Businesses will often try to do the right thing when a customer is harmed by a spoiled or contaminated food product, but even so, it’s important to have help when you’re seeking a settlement that will cover the costs of restoring your health or correcting the damage done to your business.
If you’ve been harmed or made ill by a food product, give us a call. Dickson Kohan & Bablove, LLP understands the practice of personal injury law, whether it involves a motor vehicle accident, a workplace injury, or a case of food poisoning. We consult free of charge with every new client to learn the details of every case. Contact us online through the form below or call 1-844-404-2400 today to schedule an appointment.