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Pork plant employee in N.Y. charged in food tampering case

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An employee of Ava Companies in Hicksville, New York, was arrested Friday after being accused of putting a coin into a bin of meat products, which were valued at $400.

The employee is Karen Palacios Gutierrez from Hampstead. According to police reports, the 38-year-old is believed to have taken a coin from her pocket and placed it into a package of meat at about 10:05 p.m. Thursday. The meat products, set for public retail, were marked as contaminated, and the entire bin of meat was discarded. 

Image by Nassau County Police Department

The Nassau County Police Department said that Palacios Gutierrez is charged with third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree tampering with a consumer product, and second-degree criminal nuisance. She was arraigned on Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead and held on bail.

Food safety starts on the farm and continues through the plant, all the way to the table. Ava was founded in 1985 and provides retail packaging for a variety of pork products. According to Ava’s CEO Lenny Lombardi, “Industry standard of employee turnover is 35 percent, we operate under five. We have people with 30-year tenures.” 

»Related: UPDATE: Asha ‘sanctuary’s’ Tracy Murphy arrested in N.Y. cattle case

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