Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 2


March 13, 2024

 

Department of Labor inspection finds Hanover Foods subsidiary exposing South Jersey employees to workplace safety dangers, proposes $463K penalty

Aunt Kitty's Food Inc. cited for willful, repeat, serious safety violations

 

VINELAND, NJ – A Vineland subsidiary of Hanover Foods Corp., a prominent northeast food manufacturer, allowed workers to service and clean equipment without having procedures in place to stop machinery from starting unexpectedly, a recent federal investigation has found.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Aunt Kitty's Food Inc. with seven safety violations after the agency opened a complaint investigation in September 2023. OSHA inspectors found one willful violation and two repeat and four serious violations. The agency has proposed $463,224 in penalties.

OSHA determined that Aunt Kitty's Food Inc. violated federal safety laws by failing to do the following:

  • Develop and follow a lockout/tagout program and written procedures for maintenance and sanitation staff that worked on and cleaned production equipment in the canning and filling department.
  • Keep work floor in a clean and dry condition after food waste and water leaked onto the floor.
  • Provide proper guarding on a conveyor system.
  • Train workers on lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Conduct annual lockout/tagout audits on machines.
  • Provide baseline and annual audiograms.

"Ensuring lockout/tagout procedures are established and used can make the difference between an employee ending a shift safely and suffering a serious, life-altering injury,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick, in Marlton, New Jersey. "Our investigation found Aunt Kitty's Food failed to provide a safe and healthful workplace and we will hold them legally accountable.”

A subsidiary of Pennsylvania's Hanover Foods Corp., Aunt Kitty's Food Inc. manufactures canned goods including soups, sauces, pasta, vegetables and gravy. The corporation makes and sells food products under the Bickel's Snacks, Castleberry's, John Cope's, Spring Glen and Wege Pretzels brands. In addition to its Vineland plant, the company operates manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania in Centre Hall, Clayton, Hanover and York, as well as in Teculutan, Guatemala.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Learn more about OSHA.

 

Media Contacts:              

Leni Fortson, 215-861-5102, uddyback-fortson.lenore@dol.gov
Joanna Hawkins, 215-861-5101, hawkins.joanna@dol.gov

Release Number:  24-495-NEW