Leprino sues insurer over disputed cheese loss claim

Aug. 28, 2002

DENVER, Colo. -- Leprino Foods Co., the nation's largest producer of mozzarella cheese, is suing insurer FM Global for not honoring Leprino's claim for a $13 million loss on 8.2 million pounds of tainted cheese.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, some of Leprino's customers complained that some of its mozzarella bore a strong odor and "unacceptable flavor" Oct. 1. Two days later, the company determined the cheese wasn't saleable and pulled it from the market.

Leprino later reported that samples of the cheese showed "contamination of chemicals that are commonly found in cleaning solvents," the News reported.

To date, officials at FM Global, based in Rhode Island, have not commented.

Leprino general counsel Brad Olsen said he isn't sure why the insurer disputed the claim. Some insurance documents filed with the suit, however, imply that the denial may center on specified coverage of food contaminated by "hazardous material."

Olsen said that most of the damaged cheese remains in cold storage and that there is no public health risk.

"The product is not for sale and is not being released to anyone," Olsen said. "It's under our control and being contained as evidence."

Leprino is the exclusive supplier of mozzarella for Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's.

Topics: Cheese

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