A former Gold’n Plump factory worker faces two felony charges for allegedly putting sand and dirt on chicken meat at the company’s Cold Spring, Minn., plant.
The state of Minnesota alleges in its complaint that Faye Marie Slye, 36, committed first-degree damage to property in excess of $202,000. The charges stem from a contamination incident in June that resulted in a GNP Co. recall of more than 55,000 pounds of Gold’n Plump and Just Bare chicken products that were primarily sold to food-service vendors.
Cold Spring police and the FBI began investigating the incident on June 9, after hearing that several whole chickens, which had already been cleaned and put in large bags, were now contaminated with “a dirt or ash substance,” according to the criminal complaint.
The incidents happened on two consecutive days, June 7 and June 8, during the early morning hours.
GNP declined to comment because it is a pending legal case.
Slye was charged on Jan. 26, according to the complaint. There is no defense attorney listed on the court documents. A call to a mobile number registered to Slye was not returned.
According to the complaint:
Surveillance video from June 7 showed Slye lingering back from co-workers on the processing floor near where the contaminated chickens were discovered. She was seen removing her gloves and protective plastic sleeves before looking into the pockets of her smock and then brushing her bare hands over the pocket area. Slye was the last person to leave the area.
Officers later collected her plastic sleeves and found the same gritty substance on them as was on the chickens.
On June 9, the officers interviewed Slye, who said she heard about the incidents from a colleague. She later said she had collected sand and dirt from the factory’s parking lot and placed it in small plastic bags. Slye said it was sand the first night and dirt the second night. Tests conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and an FBI lab confirmed these materials.
Slye’s first appearance is scheduled for April 3 at the Stearns County Courthouse.