Whole Foods must respond before June end to serious violations at Massachusetts plant

Federal regulators in their February investigation in a Massachusetts plant of Whole Foods Market Inc. discovered serious violations being exercised. The supermarket company has time till end of the June to address the issue.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a June 8 warning letter to company’s chief executives, stated that Whole Foods did not manufacture, package and store food in ways to reduce contamination and microorganism growth.

The problems that FDA encountered at the plant were with foods like pesto pasta and mushroom quesadillas that were being prepared or stored in places where condensation was dripping from ceilings, a doorway and a fan.

The regulators also complained that the company kept dirty dishes near food, failed to supply hot water at some hand-washing sinks. Moreover, the company allowed usage of high-pressure hoses for cleaning in areas where foods like couscous and salad dressing were being prepared.

The company’s spokeswoman said that Whole Foods has corrected each of the problems disclosed during in an earlier warning letter from FDA. The person said the company was surprised to see that these thorough and tangible steps weren’t reflected in the June letter.

The company sells prepared foods like those made in Whole Food’s Boston area plant. The company is long engaged in this business of selling prepared food. With its new chain, the company target younger, price-savvy shoppers.

“We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention”, said Ken Meyer, the company’s executive vice president of operations.

The company has 70,000-square foot North Atlantic kitchen facility supplies of prepared foods and other products that are supplied to 74 stores across eight states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

“The U.S Food and Drug Administration found serious violations — including pathogenic Listeria — at a “multiple food manufacturing facility,” owned by Whole Foods Markets Inc., according to a warning letter posted today,” according to a news report published by Food Safety News.

FDA said foods manufactured at the facility — pesto pasta, mushroom quesadilla, vegetables, chives and beets, ready-to-east egg salad — were being “prepared, packed or held under insanitary condition whereby they may be have been contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.”

“This finding demonstrates that conditions exist in and on your equipment that would support the presence and growth of Listeria monocytogenes and indicates that your cleaning and sanitation practices may be adequate,” said the warning letter.

The Whole Foods facility also lacked hand adequate washing facilities and inspectors found an unmarked drum of chemicals in the vegetable prep area. Officials with Whole Foods responded to the inspector observations, saying the company takes the concerns seriously and promising senior leadership would take all necessary measures to correct the deficiencies.

According to a story published on the topic by Washington Post, “The FDA’s Public Health Service describes multiple inspections conducted during February at the North Atlantic kitchen in Everett, which had condensate from ceiling joints dripping onto work surfaces below. Another incident involved an employee spraying sanitizer on work surfaces near a coworker preparing food, resulting in the “sanitizer being sprayed onto an open colander of salad leafy greens.” Other violations included employees not washing hands or changing gloves in between tasks, for example”

Whole Foods’ previous reply in March was insufficient due to a lack of documentation on remedial actions, the FDA said. The latest letter dated June 8 gives Whole Foods Market 15 days from its receipt to specify what the company has done to correct the violations.

“The thorough and tangible steps that were taken in the North Atlantic Kitchen to address each of these points were not reflected in the FDA’s follow-up letter, and we have contacted them to discuss the matter,” Whole Foods Market Inc. said Tuesday.

A report published in Time informed, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned Whole Foods of a series of “serious violations” it found while inspecting a food preparation facility in Massachusetts, including conditions that support the growth of the bacteria that causes listeria.”

The violations stemmed from employees handling products in areas where “condensate from ceiling joints was dripping onto the surface below,” according to the FDA. Employees were also spotted touching exposed products without washing their hands or changing gloves after first cleaning work surfaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *