SEATTLE – Starbucks has filed a lawsuit against its meat vendor after the coffee company was forced to throw away thousands of spoiled ham sandwiches on three occasions in late 2010, according to news reports. The case is Starbucks Corp. v. Wellshire Farms Inc. in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The lawsuit is against Swedesboro, NJ-based Wellshire Farms, the company Starbucks originally contracted to provide black forest ham for breakfast sandwiches in 2008. But in 2010, customer complaints prompted the company to test the sandwiches. Testing revealed harmful bacteria in the ham sandwiches, and Starbucks pulled thousands of sandwiches from its store shelves on three occasions between October and December 2010. Wellshire Farms ultimately revealed that it subcontracted the Starbucks meat order to Hahn Brothers, Inc.

The coffee company claims it did not know that the ham, which bore the Wellshire brand, came from Hahn Bros. Starbucks said it lost $4.8 million because of the tainted meat.

Wellshire Farms is a family owned business that produces meat products free of preservatives, nitrites, nitrates and artificial ingredients. The company makes bacon, sausage, lunch meat, hot dogs and other meat and poultry products under several brands, according to the company's web site. Hahn Brothers is a wholesale meat processor and packer in Westminster, Md.

Wellshire Farms filed a lawsuit against SK Food Group Inc. and Hahn Bros. in April 2011, claiming the two contractors were responsible for the spoiled ham. That case was filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey.