December 20, 2014

Henry’s Farm FDA Warning Letter for Listeria Monocytogenes in Sprouts

The FDA has sent a warning letter to Henry’s Farm, Inc. in Virginia for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination in soy bean sprouts. A sample of the sprouts tested by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services yielded a positive test result for the bacteria.

Samples collected by the FDA at the onsite inspection in April and May, 2012 yielded Listeria monocytogenes. Inspectors found “numerous insanitary conditions and practices that may have contributed directly or indirectly to contamination of your sprouts with pathogens and filth.” There were numerous rodent pellets in bags of mung beans, and gnaw marks on 25 kg paper bags of soybeans in the refrigerated seed storage area. Gaps under the doors could lead to contamination, and a “foul odor consistent with rodent infestations” was noticed in the shed.

A hand-washing sink drained used water directly onto the floor, which can contaminate products, equipment, and shoes. The wash bin exit chute had an accumulation of debris on the underside of a conveyer belt that was located above a conveyor belt on which soybeans are transported. The facility did not use detergent for washing equipment and food contact surfaces. A metal mesh conveyor belt had loose metal burrs and there is no metal detection step in the sprout processing system.

The company’s representatives must meet with FDA inspectors to rectify these problems. The company must provide document and photographs to support corrections made.

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