It’s easy to love Amy’s Kitchen for its allergen-friendly, vegan selection of pizzas, burritos, mac and cheese and more. But the company has lately made it hard for fans of the plant-based brand to remain loyal, due to reports about its manufacturing practices. Last week, a TikToker went viral with a report that Amy’s does not take allergens seriously, warning people to stay away from the company’s food since dairy can end up in the food. And complaints have surfaced from
The video gained traction after the company was forced to recall 15,626 boxes of Vegan Organic Rice Mac & Cheeze from store freezer shelves due to the fact that the vegan dish actually contained trace amounts of milk. The company voluntarily issued an allergy alert for the errant milk that managed to get into the formula of what it said was a “Single Lot” of the vegan mac, according to the FDA.
The milk incident encouraged people to speak up against the company, questioning how its quality control procedures overlooked such a major allergen. Amy’s Kitchen is the largest maker of organic vegetarian packaged foods, shipping 21 million cases of food in 2020. The company’s current selection includes more than180 products – all organic and vegetarian.
During the viral video, the creator claimed that Amy’s Kitchen doesn’t “believe that people are allergic to things,” causing alarm to many customers who purchase Amy’s for its allergen-free assurances. The brand is working with retailers and distributors to remove any potentially affected products from the shelves, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“At Amy’s Kitchen, the safety of consumers is the top priority,” the company stated in its FDA announcement. “Amy’s follows the highest possible food safety and quality control standards to ensure the safety and full enjoyment of its meals and is committed to implementing corrective actions flowing from the investigation of this event.”
Amy’s Kitchen Involved in Labor Complaint
Amy’s Kitchen is now also involved in a labor complaint filed by workers at its Santa Rosa plant. In March, workers filed a complaint with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration that cited labor violations and dangerous conditions that have led to repetitive motion injuries. The Santa Rosa workers have alleged that the company has prevented them from using the bathrooms while working.
The complaint noted that multiple workers have experienced repetitive stress-related injuries without compensation from the company. The allegation gained national attention early this year when NBC released a report that asserted that workers do not have access to clean drinking water during shifts and that nearby fire exits were locked.
Amy’s Kitchen’s Chief People Officer Mike Resch responded to NBC, disputing much of the complaint, including the detail that fire exits are locked or blocked. “They’re not locked, period, full stop,” Resch explained. “If ever a fire exit is blocked, that is remedied immediately.”
Amy’s is a top producer of vegetarian food
Amy’s Kitchen is one of the country’s top producers of vegetarian food, with an estimated $600 million in sales in 2020. It has traditionally enjoyed a reputation as a socially responsible company. Also in March, Amy’s Kitchen received certification as a B Corp, which is a designation that recognizes positive workplaces and companies that promote positive social change here and abroad.
“We encourage our employees to raise safety issues,” Resch added. “We at Amy’s want to be and have a safety culture, where safety is built into the way we work and think. And we like to inspire our people to raise issues before incidents happen so that we can address and mitigate or eliminate the risk.”
While investigations are still underway, several retailers and grocery stores have started pulling Amy’s Kitchen products from the shelves in support of the workers. Grocers participating in the boycott include the Mandela Grocery Cooperative in Oakland, California, and two co-ops in Portland, Oregon. “We stand for the dignity of workers around the world. And as much as we like eating those Amy’s frozen pizzas, we gotta let them go until they get it together,” Mandela Grocery Cooperative posted on its Instagram.