United States v. Ravi Kumar Chermala
Former Kerry, Inc. Manager Ravi Chermala Pleads Guilty in Connection with Insanitary Plant Conditions Linked to 2018 Salmonella Poisoning Outbreak
On October 21, 2022, Ravi Kumar Chermala, former Director of Quality Assurance for food processor Kerry, Inc., pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of causing the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce. The charges related to the manufacture of breakfast cereal linked to a 2018 outbreak of salmonellosis, or Salmonella poisoning. Chermala, Kerry’s Director of Quality Assurance until September 2018, oversaw the sanitation programs at various Kerry manufacturing plants, including a facility in Gridley, Illinois that manufactured Kellogg’s Honey Smacks breakfast cereal for Kerry’s customer, the Kellogg Company. In pleading guilty, Chermala admitted that between June 2016 and June 2018, he directed subordinates to not report certain information to Kellogg’s about conditions at the Gridley facility. In addition, Chermala admitted that he directed subordinates at the Gridley facility to alter the plant’s program for monitoring for the presence of pathogens in the plant, limiting the facility’s ability to accurately detect insanitary conditions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first announced in June 2018 that an ongoing outbreak of salmonellosis cases in the United States could be traced to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal produced at the Gridley facility. In response, on June 14, 2018, Kellogg’s voluntarily recalled all Honey Smacks cereal manufactured at the plant since June 2017. The CDC eventually identified more than 130 cases of salmonellosis linked to the outbreak with illness onset dates beginning in March 2018. The CDC did not identify any deaths related to the outbreak.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge James E. Shadid and Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley in Peoria, Illinois. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to occur on June 8, 2023 at 10:00 am in Courtroom C. Information regarding any upcoming court hearings or other significant developments in the case will be posted here, on this website.
Please be aware that victims of all crimes under federal investigation are entitled to services under the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act, including notification of court events. For further details, please refer to Title 42 United States Code section 10607 or the brochure posted at https://www.notify.usdoj.gov. Now that charges have been filed in federal court, any victims of the charges filed are, in addition, entitled to the following rights, according to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, Title 18 United States Code section 3771:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused;
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused;
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding;
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding;
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case;
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law;
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
Please understand that these rights apply only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus you may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which you are a victim was not charged. It is also important to keep in mind that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that presumption requires both the Court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served. While our office cannot act as your attorney or provide you with legal advice, you can seek the advice of an attorney with respect to the rights above or other related legal matters.
Additionally, please be aware that most criminal cases are resolved by a plea agreement between the government and the defendant. As noted above, in this case the defendant has agreed to plead guilty pursuant to such an agreement. If the court schedules a sentencing hearing in this case, the date and time of that hearing will be posted here. If you want to inform the prosecutor of your views regarding potential plea agreements, or any other aspect of the case, you can contact the Consumer Protection Branch at the Department of Justice via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please include docket number 22-10032 in the subject line) or by mail at Consumer Protection Branch, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20530-0001.
It is helpful for the Court to know the impact of this crime on any victims. If you believe you are a victim in this case and would like to provide a written statement regarding your experience, please forward it to:
Consumer Protection Branch
Docket No. 22-10032
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
You can also email your statement to email@example.com. If you believe you are a victim in this case and that you experienced a related financial loss subject to restitution, you may include that information in your statement, along with any supporting documentation and whether you previously have been compensated for any such loss.