The Latest: Exec, 2 firms plead guilty to mislabeling cheese

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Latest on guilty pleas by two Pennsylvania companies and an official who sold mislabeled grated cheeses (all times local):

2 p.m.

A woman and two western Pennsylvania cheese firms her family controls have pleaded guilty to mislabeling grated parmesan and romano that contained only other cheeses and filler made from wood pulp.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh didn’t immediately set a sentencing date for 44-year-old Michelle Myrter and her Slippery Rock companies, International Packing and Universal Cheese and Drying.

Under the plea, each company will forfeit $500,000 and, according to her attorney, she’s likely to receive probation.

Myrter was charged with aiding and abetting the introduction of misbranded and adulterated food into interstate commerce. The law holds a company official responsible whether or not they knew about the wrongdoing.

The FDA says the cheese was sold through Target stores and 3,400 stores supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers of Kansas City, Kansas.

8 a.m.

A woman whose family controls several western Pennsylvania cheese-making firms will plead guilty — along with two of her companies — to charges that their grated cheese had too little cheese and too much wood pulp.

Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty Friday morning before a federal judge in Pittsburgh. She’ll also be pleading guilty on behalf of International Packing LLC and Universal Cheese and Drying Inc.

The two Slippery Rock-based businesses were accused of mislabeling products made by family-owned Castle Cheese. Myrter is vice-president of Castle and an officer in the other firms.

A defence attorney for the company declined to comment in advance of the guilty pleas.

Myrter faces up to a year in prison and a $500,000 fine.