Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, May 3, 2001


Unsanitary Conditions Charged

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Martin Mendoza d/b/a Mendoza Spice Company, located in Dallas. Mendoza is a food manufacturer that re-packs spices and distributes Mexican soft drinks to independently owned Mexican grocery stores, specialty shops and restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The spices re-packed by the firm include dry chili peppers, black pepper, cinnamon, chile powder, and various seeds, that are taken from 30 to 50 pound sacks and re-packed into small bags that typically weigh less than eight ounces.

Based on inspections by the Texas Department of Health, the firm has been operating in unsanitary conditions and failed to remedy numerous deficiencies including rodent and insect activity throughout the facility.

"Consumers have the right to purchase and consume grocery products without worrying about possible contamination. I will continue to fight those companies that disregard health and safety standards," said Attorney General Cornyn.

The lawsuit was filed at the request of the Texas Commissioner of Health in state district court in Dallas County based on, but not limited to, the following alleged violations:

  • Rodent droppings on tops of cases of food products and beverages;
  • Rodent droppings on, around and in burlap-type sacks containing spices and mortars used for grinding spices;
  • Rodent droppings and empty seed hulls in and around boxes containing exposed pumpkins seeds;
  • Live and dead weevil-type insects inside packages of re-packed spices;
  • Building deficiencies that allow rodents, pests and insects access to the warehouse;
  • Several sacks and cases of spices stored open with exposed product;
  • Insect spray stored with packages of spices;
  • Spices with more than one ingredient lacked ingredient list;

TDH conducts inspections of food manufacturers on a periodic basis and is required by law to dispose of and/or detain any food products that constitute an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of the public. TDH will continue to monitor Mendoza's facility for conditions that pose such a threat. The potential for contamination along with past violations warrant legal action by the State.

The State is seeking a temporary and permanent injunction from the court in order to stop the alleged unsanitary conditions as well as civil penalties and money to cover the costs of the State's investigation and attorneys fees.

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Contact: Mark Heckmann, Tom Kelley or Jane Dees Shepperd at (512) 463-2050.
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