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article imageGuilty pleas entered in federal criminal fake Parmesan case

By Karen Graham     Feb 27, 2016 in Food
The executive of a now defunct cheese company accused of selling "real Parmesan cheese" containing wood pulp instead of cheese had her day in court Friday, entering guilty pleas for herself and the companies.
Michelle Myrter, the daughter of Castle Cheese Co. co-CEO George Myrter, pleaded guilty to one criminal misdemeanor count in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
District Judge Mark Hornak released her on her own recognizance pending her sentencing. Myrter faces up to a year in prison and/or up to a $100,000 fine.
According to Food Safety News, she admitted to “aiding and abetting the introduction of adulterated and misbranded cheese products into interstate commerce, in violation of provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”
On behalf of the two cheese companies, Michelle Myrter entered guilty pleas to one count each of “conspiring to introduce misbranded and adulterated cheese products into interstate commerce and to commit money laundering.”
In October 2015, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against Myrter and two corporate entities, Universal Cheese & Drying Inc. and International Packing LLC of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
According to a Digital Journal story on the "fake Parmesan cheese" case, the FDA acting on a tip in November 2012 paid a visit to the company in Pennsylvania and got the evidence that the cheese was made with wood fillers.
Well, here's the shocker. The tipster turned out to be George Myrter. In a letter sent to Castle Cheese Co. on July 11, 2013, the FDA states: "On November 14, 2012, our investigators asked Mr. George L. Myrter, CEO, and Co-owner if he was aware that the firm is substituting a mixture of different cheese products and/or imitation cheese products for real cheese. Mr. Myrter acknowledged that he was."
In other related news, Wal-Mart is getting sued for selling parmesan cheese containing wood fillers. Wal-Mart customer Marc Moschetta filed the lawsuit, stating, “the 100% representation was false and mischaracterized the amount and percentage of Parmesan cheese in the container,” reports Fortune.
In addition to Mr. Moschetta's lawsuit, another lawsuit was reportedly filed Against Kraft last week in San Francisco, Calif. Randy Hargrove, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, in a statement to Fortune, said, “We will review the allegations once we have received the complaint and will respond appropriately with the court.”
More about parmesan cheese, wood fillers, 100 parmesan, Guilty pleas, Justice department
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