Fake News: NO Massive Bumble Bee Recall In 2018, Employees Did NOT Mix A Man With A Batch Of Tuna

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fake News: NO Massive Bumble Bee Recall In 2018, Employees Did NOT Mix A Man With A Batch Of Tuna

Did the Bumble Bee company recall cans of tuna fish after two employees cooked and mixed a man with the tuna? No, that's not exactly what happened. An old story from 2016 seems to have gone viral again, and that story mixes up two different other stories in turn to make something that is not quite true.

An article published on November 1, 2016 from Love This Pic titled "Massive Bumble Bee Recall After 2 Employees Admit Cooking A Man And Mixing Him With A Batch Of Tuna" (archived here) went viral again in 2018. It opened:

We previously reported about the current tuna recall and the reason for the recall was supposedly a packing deviation by a facility not owned or operated by Bumble Bee that could result in contamination by spoilage or pathogens - if consumed this could lead to life-threatening illnesses... Now there are new reports a man was mixed into a batch of tuna! These have been new reports circulating today so we cannot verify them at this time, but here's what sites have been reporting:
Bumble Bee Foods and 2 employees were charged by Los Angeles prosecutors with violating safety regulations in the death of a worker who was cooked in an industrial oven with tons of tuna. José Melena was performing maintenance in a 35 foot long oven at the company's Santa Fe Springs plant when coworkers loaded it with 12,000 pounds of canned tuna and turned it on. Temperatures reached 270° during a two-hour process to cook and sterilize the tuna. The body of Melena,62, was found when the oven was opened.

The 2016 article got two things correct but messed up the dates and locations:

  • A man was indeed cooked alive in an oven used by Bumble Bee to sterilize cans of tuna fish.
  • There was a recall of Bumble Bee tuna cans.

But the first event was an accident that happened in October 2012 for which Bumble Bee was forced to pay $6 million in damages:

Bumble Bee Foods to pay $6 million in death of worker in pressure cooker

On one of his early morning shifts, Jose Melena stepped into a 35-foot-long cylinder-shaped oven at the Bumble Bee Foods plant in Santa Fe Springs. The 62-year-old father of six needed to make a quick repair inside the massive industrial pressure cooker, which is used to sterilize thousands of cans of tuna at a time.

And the second event happened in 2016 and did not involve tuna packed at plant owned or operated by Bumble Bee.

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC Issues Voluntary Recall on 3 Production Codes of Canned Chunk Light Tuna Due to Possible Health Risk

SAN DIEGO - Bumble Bee Foods, LLC announced today that it is voluntarily recalling 3 specific UPC codes of canned Chunk Light tuna due to process deviations that occurred in a co-pack facility not owned or operated by Bumble Bee.

So no tuna was ever sold that contained bits of a dead worker. Stop spreading the hoax.


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  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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