The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the United States District Court of Virginia has entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the U.S. and Henry’s Farm, Inc., and its owner Soo C. Park as a result of serious food safety violations related to soybean sprouts. Henry’s Farm is located in Woodford, Va.
The consent decree prohibits the company from receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packing, holding and distributing any ready-to-eat soybean and mung-bean sprouts after Henry’s Farm, Inc., was found guilty of violating several federal food safety laws and regulations.
In order to bring the sprouts producer to justice, the FDA sought the help of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the Virginia Rapid Response Team. The group conducted many inspections and collected a substantial amount of evidence to bring back to the lab and test for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono), which is a foodborne pathogen with the potential to cause serious illness and even death in consumers.
Scientists determined several of the samples did test positive for L. mono. Inspectors also reported the company’s facilities were extremely unsanitary due to an issue with rodent infestations and messy food processing equipment.
“It’s the FDA’s responsibility to protect consumers from potentially harmful food entering the food supply,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a company continues to produce food that presents a risk for consumers, the FDA will take whatever steps necessary to protect public health.”
The consent decree prevents Henry’s Farm from processing or distributing food until further inspection. The company must also retain an independent laboratory to find and analyze the L. mono, and retain an independent sanitation expert to create a program with the sole purpose of finding and controlling the presence of L. mono, as well as eliminating the unclean conditions at the facility.
“Insanitary conditions at food processing facilities can pose well-known risks to consumers, but such risks can be effectively mitigated if companies handling food take proper precautions,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively with the FDA to combat and deter conduct that leads to the distribution of adulterated food to consumers.”
Any consumer that has experienced any symptoms of listeriosis, a sickness caused by L. mono, should contact their health care professional immediately and report the illness to their district office consumer complaint coordinator. None have been reported thus far in the Henry’s Farm case.