Health code violation closes M&M's plant
June 29, 2006 (Last Updated: 10:10 PM) (WLS) -- Chicago health inspectors shut down one of Chicago's biggest candy factories for code violations. Candies made at the factory included Snickers and M&M's. Inspectors say they found mouse droppings and fruit flies at the factory.
The M&M-Mars candy company is on the city's West Side on Oak Park Avenue near Armitage.
From the front it looks like a university campus. The lawns and shrubs are immaculately groomed. In fact, there isn't even a sign indicating what they make inside. But this is it. Chocolate, lots of it, M&M's, Snickers bars, Milky Ways and many others. The health department ordered the company to shut down Thursday afternoon after inspectors found what they say are critical code violations.
"The potential there is for rodents and the fruit flies to contaminate the food that is in the food process," said Frances Guichard, Chicago Health Department.
According to the 16 page report, inspectors found a number of violations including approximately 20 mice droppings along the northwest corner of a line of barrels in the Snickers production area. The production lines have build-up of crease, chocolate, and food debris.
There was also evidence of live insects on the premises. Inspectors found approximately seven gnats in one area.
The inspectors first looked at the company last week and gave them time to fix the problems. But, when they returned Thursday, inspectors say nothing was fixed.
"We discussed it before -- and we also talked with the manager to ensure that they understand what the violations are. And they are to correct the violations," said Guichard.
The company employs 370 workers and the shutdown is costly. Mars is owned by MasterFoods USA, which issued a statement saying they are "committed to upholding our stringent quality standards and consumers can be assured that this brief stoppage will not impact the quality of our products. We expect to resume normal operations within 24 hours." According to the city, however, that won't happen until they pass inspection.
The company could be facing a fine of up to $1,500. They are expected to appear in a hearing with the city later next month.
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