Bumble Bee Foods to Settle for $6 Million After Factory Worker Is Baked Alive with 12,000 Pounds of Tuna

by Owen James Burke


Photo: Center for Disease Control.

In 2012, Jose Melena, 62, a factory worker at Bumble Bee Foods’ Santa Fe plant, probably met the worst ending I could ever dream up, at least on this planet. He was performing maintenance on a 35-foot-long oven when his coworkers mistakenly jumped the gun, blocking him in with 12,000 pounds of tuna before turning it on.


Melena was cooked alive in an oven like this. Photo: Center for Disease Control.

The tuna–and Mr. Melena–cooked for two hours at approximately 270° fahrenheit while his disappearance went unnoticed. It wasn’t until the oven was unloaded that he was found, and of course, it was too late.

Bumble Bee Foods has announced that they will settle for $6 Million, which, ABC 7 reports, is the “largest known payout in a California criminal prosecution of workplace safety violations involving a single victim.”


Jose Melena, Santa Fe Springs, New Mexico. Photo KABC/Courtesy of the Melena Family.

But Melena’s family will only receive $1.5 million of that sum. The rest will go to the District Attorney, fines, penalties, legal fees, and an entire $3 million will go back into the company so that it can update its ovens so that workers don’t have to step inside them.

Two workers were also charged. Read more at ABC 7.

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