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Starbucks sues meat suppliers for $5 million

July 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

SEATTLE, July 15 (UPI) -- Starbucks is suing two meat distributors for nearly $5 million, alleging thousands of sandwiches had to be thrown out at U.S. stores because of spoiled meat.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court for Western Washington said Starbucks began selling hot sandwiches with ham supplied by Wellshire Farms Inc. in 2008, but ended its contact with the company after repeated complaints from customers the meat was spoiled, seattlepi.com reported Sunday.

Ham in the warm sandwiches was different from the ham supplied by Wellshire Farms for Starbucks' cold sandwiches, Starbucks spokesman Zak Hutson said.

Starbucks found "potentially harmful bacteria" in the ham for the warm sandwiches, the suit claims, and twice ordered stores to stop selling the sandwiches. It continued its business relationship with Wellshire Farms, however, after assurances the problem was isolated. After renewed complaints in 2010, the coffee chain said it was forced to discard the sandwiches a third time.

Starbucks fired Wellshire Farms after the chain learned the ham had actually been supplied by a subcontractor, Maryland-based Hahn's of Westminster, seattlepi.com said.

The suit claims Starbucks had to throw out thousands of sandwiches, costing the company $4.8 million.

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