USDA Recalls Nearly a Ton of Venezuelan Snacks From North Miami Beach Manufacturer

The United States Department of Agriculture is recalling nearly 2,000 pounds of prepared food distributed by a North Miami Beach company that failed to secure inspections and approval to sell items ranging from ham-filled cachitos to chicken empanadas.

All told, the recall covers 1,951 pounds of products packed by Panna Café Express to Go Inc. between June 2 and August 17, the USDA said in a news release earlier this week. There have been no reports of anyone being sickened.

"Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them," the agency said. "These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

Panna Café's roots trace back to 2000, when its owner, Mauricio Meneses, a Venezuelan immigrant, and his sister Beatriz Morrison bought a Broward County gas station with an attached bakery, according to a 2008 Sun Sentinel article. The spot became a favorite among the area's sizable Venezuelan population and soon he was selling hundreds of the puffy ham croissants a day. 

The distribution operation formalized in 2008, according to state corporation records. Today the company seems to operate as a manufacturer disbursing tequeños, cachitos, and other food items. No one from Panna could immediately be reached for comment; however, the homepage of the company's website boasts stamps asserting that it has passed USDA inspections. 

"We impose the very highest standards for quality, sanitation, and safety at every step from purchase, to processing, to shipping and finally to preparation in our restaurants," the website says. 

This year has been marred by more serious recalls that affected Florida, along with the rest of the country. In April, Washington-based CRF Frozen Foods voluntarily recalled more than a dozen varieties of vegetable packets possibly contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria was believed to sicken eight patients, two of whom died.
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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson