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Bumble Bee Foods CEO: We Still Don't Know How An Employee Got Cooked To Death Inside An Oven

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Bumble Bee Foods sent out a letter, saying that it still has no idea how an employee ended up being cooked to death inside an industrial oven at the plant last week.

Whittier police have ruled out any sort of foul play, City News Service reports. It adds that coroner should be releasing a report shortly on the death of the employee Jose Melena. Cal-OSHA is also required by law to complete an investigation on the death within 6 months.

But for right now, Bumble Bee Foods says it has no idea how the experienced worker ended up getting killed. This echoes the sentiment of a former employee who said earlier this week that whatever happened, it had to have been a really "bad mistake."

Chris Lischewski, president and CEO, wrote an open letter to the community, which was obtained by City News Service. He writes:

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"At this point, it is still not clear how this could have happened. From a process standpoint, it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to load a retort with about 12 to 14 baskets of canned product to be sterilized. The baskets are loaded by an employee
operating a pallet jack."

Melena's primary responsibility was operating the pallet jack, and Lischewski claims the company never had an accident involving the machinery: "Once the baskets are finished processing, they are pulled out of the retort by a forklift. We are not aware of any such accident ever occurring before with this machinery."Just to be safe, the company says everyone is being retrained on how to operate the machine with a special emphasis on safety procedures.

Grief counselors have been sent to the plant and Lischewski ended his letter: "We miss Jose very much and our hearts go out to his wife, children, grandchildren and friends. This unprecedented tragedy has been devastating for all of us at Bumble Bee."

Some friends and family of Melena spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Melena, who enjoyed gardening and was affectionately referred to as "Pedrito."

Bumble Bee Foods Employee Dies After Being Cooked In Oven
Former Bumble Bee Employee on Worker Cooked to Death in Plant Oven: Someone Made a 'bad mistake'