July 19, 2018

Will Sprout Grower Face Criminal Charges After Listeria Recalls?

After two Listeria recalls in two years, bean sprout grower Henry’s Farm of Virginia may face criminal charges, according to a report in The Packer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating the company for 32 months, but Listeria problems have persisted even after a fire destroyed the facility and it was rebuilt.

Bean Sprouts CloseupAfter the recall in 2012, FDA investigators inspected the facility and found “numerous insanitary conditions and practices that may have contributed directly or indirectly to contamination of your sprouts with pathogens and filth.” There were rodent droppings in bags of mung beans, and gnawed marks on bags of soybeans in the refrigerated seed storage area. Inspectors also noted a “foul odor consistent with rodent infestations.”

In late November 2014, a second recall was linked to Henry’s sprouts. Virginia’s agriculture department confiscated and destroyed the product and production at the facility was halted. An official from the department told The Packer that because compliance was voluntary, all options, including criminal charges, were being considered.

Listeria can cause serious, sometimes fatal illness. Symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Among pregnant women  listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and infection in the newborn.

No illnesses have been linked to sprouts from Henry’s Farm, but earlier this year a Listeria outbreak linked to sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products of Chicago sickened five people, two of them died.

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