Workers from US company Bumble Bee Foods could face jail after a fellow employee was accidentally cooked alive in an industrial oven alongside tonnes of tuna.

Jose Melena was burnt to death in scorching 270F (123C) temperatures after a co-worker turned on the oven and loaded in 12,000lb of canned tuna.

The colleague thought Melena was in the toilet but he was performing maintenance inside the 35ft-long oven at the Santa Fe Springs plant in California on 11 October 2012, according to AP.

Los Angeles prosecutors charged Bumble Bee Foods and its two managers Angel Rodriguez, 63, and former safety manager Saul Florez, 42, with three counts of violating occupational safety and health administration rules that cause a death.

The pair could be jailed for three years and fined up to $250,000 (£162,000). Bumble Bee Foods also faces a maximum fine of $1.5m.

In a statement, the company said it remained "devastated by the loss" of Melena and would appeal the company's penalties.

It added: "Bumble Bee cooperated fully with Cal-OSHA in its post-accident investigation, which found no wilful violations related to the accident.

"We disagree with and are disappointed by the charges filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. We are currently exploring all options with respect to those charges and will proceed in the manner that best serves the needs of the Melena family, our employees and the company. Safety has always been and will always be a top priority at our facilities."

The company added that since the accident, it has introduced robust measures into its safety programme and remained "steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the safest possible workplace for our employees".

Bumble Bee Foods is a company that produces canned tuna, salmon, other seafoods and chicken, and has its headquarters in San Diego, California.