Ex-Tyson worker indicted on tampering charges
October 20, 2010
by Meat&Poultry Staff
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Nwee Lah, 20, of Amarillo, Texas, a former Tyson Foods employee, has been accused of inserting pieces of a broken saw blade into a chuck roll while working on a line in a plant near Amarillo. Authorities are handling the Sept. 30 incident as an isolated case and as a result no recalls have been issued, according to the Amarillo Globe News
A Potter County grand jury has indicted Lah on charges of tampering with consumer products, which is a second-degree felony. Lah faces from two to 20 years in prison if convicted and up to a $10,000 fine. Lah is from Myanmar, formerly Burma. Investigators are uncertain of his citizenship.
Investigators allege Lah was working on a production line at the Tyson plant, located about 10 miles east of Amarillo, found a broken piece of a saw blade on the floor next to where he was standing, broke it into four smaller pieces and poked them into a chuck roll. Chief Deputy Roger Short of the Potter County Sheriff's Office said reports indicate a co-worker allegedly witnessed the incident and notified management.
“The safety of our beef products is vital to the continued success of our business, so we take matters such as this very seriously,” said Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson in a statement sent to MEATPOULTRY.com. “We contacted local law enforcement about this incident after conducting our own investigation. What we can tell you at this point is that the worker involved is no longer with the company. We can also tell you that as a precautionary measure, all of the potentially affected product was retained, re-inspected and run through a metal detector before being released.”
Following a Tyson internal investigation, the company contacted Potter County on Oct. 6. Deputies took Lah into custody that day and booked him into the Potter County Detention Center on the tampering charge. Lah, who posted $10,000 bond, was later released.
Investigators have since recovered the tampered-with meat and four broken pieces of saw blade, Short said.
All indications are that it was a one-time occurrence, Short said. From what the witness account was and what he saw him do, this was an isolated incident, he added. A US Department of Agriculture meat inspector stationed at the plant was involved with the investigation. Potter County also notified the FBI.