FDA NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: February 22, 2013
Media Inquiries: Tamara Ward, 301-796-7567; Tamara.Ward@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
FDA enters into consent decree with Chicago sprout producer due to unsanitary conditions
Company repeatedly warned about violations
U Joo Foods, a Chicago sprout grower and processor and the company’s owner and president, Kiyoung Chin have agreed to enter into a consent decree of permanent injunction sought by the Justice Department on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Under the consent decree, U Joo Foods and its owner are prohibited from processing and distributing food until they demonstrate to the FDA that the facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination in the food that they process, prepare, store, and handle. In addition, they must routinely test the water where the sprouts are grown for evidence of contamination.
U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, signed the consent decree on Feb. 8, 2013.
According to the complaint filed in connection with the consent decree, U Joo Foods and its owner prepared, packed, and held sprouts under unsanitary conditions. The FDA conducted an inspection in 2012, to determine if the firm corrected violations found in 2011. During the 2012 inspection, the FDA found that U Joo Foods continued to have deficiencies, including workers who did not sanitize their gloves prior to touching sprouts, inadequate toilet and hand-washing facilities, and inadequate cleaning procedures evidenced by residues of sprouts on the production equipment.
The FDA also found continued presence of Listeria welshimeri, a non-pathogenic bacterium in the same genus as Listeria monocytogenes.
“The FDA takes strong enforcement actions against companies that fail to meet federal safety regulations protecting consumers from foodborne illness,” said Acting Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaisier. “While no illnesses in this particular case have been reported, we are taking actions to ensure that products purchased by consumers are not contaminated with filth or cause illness.”
The ready-to-eat sprouts are distributed primarily in the Chicago area.
For more information:
FDA.gov-Product Specific Information - Sprouts
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.