Lacey company Nutriom widens recall, despite no reports of illness

Nutriom LLC, a Lacey-based company that manufactures a freeze-dried egg product, has agreed to an expanded recall of its product for possible salmonella contamination, even though the company initially refused to comply, saying its products were safe.

But under pressure from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nutriom agreed this week to recall an additional 82,000 pounds of its egg product, after a recall in February of about 227,000 pounds.

Nutriom marketing director Rodrigo Etcheto said Thursday the company refused to expand the recall because testing showed the product was 100 percent safe.

Instead, the company got tripped up by the regulatory process rather than an issue of contamination, he said, adding that there have been no reports of illnesses.

Here’s what the USDA said about the initial recall:

“The problem was discovered by Washington State Laboratories in response to a billing inquiry by Nutriom LLC. The laboratory then notified (the USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service about discrepancies in laboratory results.”

Nutriom had this to say in its own news release: “We have determined that a technical, nonfood safety-related error, occurred.”

The USDA, too, said the agency and the company have received no reports of illnesses.

“We are operating as normal,” Etcheto said.

Nutriom has been based in Lacey since 2003, and was launched by Hernan Etcheto, Rodrigo’s father. The company, which employs 30 people, invented a new way of dehydrating food — specifically eggs — that it sells to consumers and the federal government, the company’s largest customer. The egg product is used in military rations, Etcheto said.

“It’s 100 percent egg and it tastes like a fresh egg,” he said.

Etcheto said the company on Hogum Bay Road has operated under continuous USDA inspection since 2003.

“We have inspectors here all the time, and when they feel there’s a sanitation issue, they bring it to our attention,” he said. “We’ve never had a problem.”

Still, the company has learned a hard lesson, Etcheto said, so it has brought in outside experts to help ensure Nutriom does not make another regulatory mistake.

“There is no fundamental issue here,” he said. “It’s about record-keeping and staying in compliance.” Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

For consumers

There have been no reports of illnesses. The dried egg products in the recalls were produced between January 2013 and Feb. 8, 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They bear the establishment code 21493G inside the USDA mark of inspection.