The Papa Johns founder is facing questions over whether the pizza chain’s connection with the papas lineage goes back decades.
“I just love the fact that we are the most family-owned company in America,” Papa John CEO Matt Taibbi said at a recent investor day.
Mr Taibbii’s company has been the subject of an internal investigation by the Papa John parent company, J.P. Morgan Chase, which alleges the pizzeria and Papa John Pizza Company violated US federal and state food safety regulations.
At the time, the Papa Johns parent company denied the allegations and said the investigation was “completely unrelated to the business”.
The probe into the chain was conducted by the Justice Department, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The company also admitted to a potential breach of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Papa John’s has been under investigation by regulators for allegedly falsifying ingredient lists and food labeling for years.
Last year, the FTC sued Papa John for allegedly violating the law, alleging the pizza restaurant’s salespeople were told to over-fill ingredient lists with the wrong food ingredients.
“If the company did something wrong, they should be held to account,” Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, told The Associated Press at the time.
The company denied any wrongdoing.
As a result of the investigation, the agency is now conducting an inquiry into the “potential for future violations” and “unethical practices” by Papa John.
During a hearing on Wednesday, Senator Murray said she is concerned about the lack of oversight of the company and the food safety system at the heart of the Papa Joes pizza business.
She said she wants the Department of Justice to look at “how we can make sure that we can continue to ensure the food is safe”.
The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is also investigating the company.
Meanwhile, the Justice department has also launched a civil rights investigation into the Papa-John franchisees and Papa Johns’ relationship with the family.
A spokesman for Mr Taibbian said the company has always had a zero tolerance policy for food safety violations, and said that the probe was being conducted in a manner “not inconsistent with our zero tolerance practices”.
“Papa Johns has consistently engaged with regulators and is committed to being a good steward of the environment and ensuring that the food we serve is safe,” the spokesman said.
But the Papa James’ owner, Anthony James, said the focus of the probe is on the franchisees, not the Papa Johans.
He told the AP the focus was on the “family values” of the franchisee, not on the PapaJohns relationship with him.
“I can assure you, that is a separate issue, a separate investigation, that will be handled by the DOJ, the FDA, and by the FTC,” he said.
The Papa John franchisees say they have a long-standing, healthy relationship with Mr James, who they refer to as their father, and are proud to serve him.
Their company says they are the first to take orders from Papa James, the family patriarch who has served in the military and worked as a food delivery driver.
According to a Papa James spokesperson, the franchise owners were not contacted by the Feds, but are being investigated.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the company said it was “working closely” with the Justice and FDA.
There has also been criticism that the company is failing to enforce the food standards.
Earlier this year, a local pizzeria owner said the family was responsible for the food quality at his restaurant.
And a US appeals court upheld the government’s ruling that Papa John violated the Food Safety Modernization Act.
What is the FFSIS investigation into?
The Federal Food and Food Safety Act, or FSIS Act, is a federal law designed to address food safety and food-borne illnesses.
It requires that food be inspected, packaged and labelled at least once every three months and is a key part of the Food Chain Safety Act.
It requires the FDA to conduct an independent, third-party investigation into food safety incidents in the US.
“It was the FFAIS that brought the federal government to the attention of the companies,” the spokesperson said.
“This investigation, which began in February of 2018, is being conducted as part of an ongoing investigation into all aspects of the food-safety industry.”
Mr Taubbi also said he was “pleased” to have the probe concluded and that he is not concerned about any violations of the law.
“What I am concerned about is the food that is being sold at Papa John,” he told the Associated Press. Read