FDA details hazards at sprout producer; who was the auditor

Why are these problems always found after the outbreak?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows up after the outbreak, which is why retailers like Jimmy John’s hire third-party auditors to verify the safety of their suppliers. Someone may want to ask Jimmy John’s, how does someone become eligible to supply ingredients for the sandwich artists? Any food safety criteria?

Can’t wait to find out who the third-party auditor of this sprout outfit was – and yet another reason company’s with their names on product, like Jimmy John’s, should be using their own people who may actually care about the brand. Or making people barf.

According to CIDRAP, FDA says it found a variety of possible contamination sources responsible for the salmonella-in-sprouts outbreak that has sickened 125 people, primarily in Indiana and primarily related to eating sandwiches from Jimmy John’s.

The FDA findings are detailed in a Form 483 report the the agency released following its inspection at Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill. In December the firm recalled alfalfa sprouts and Spicy Sprouts (a mixture of alfalfa, radish, and clover sprouts) after they were implicated in an investigation of Salmonella cases in people who got sick after eating at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Jan 14, put the size of the outbreak at 125 cases in 22 states and Washington, DC. The FDA found a Salmonella isolate matching the outbreak strain, known as I 4,[5],12:i:-, in a sample of runoff water from the company.

The FDA’s 6-page inspection report says the company grew sprouts in "soil from the organic material decomposed outside" without using any monitored "kill step" on it.

These were among the other FDA findings:

* An "amphibian/reptile" was kept in the reception room of the firm, which adjoined the production area.
* The firm couldn’t show that its antimicrobial treatment for seeds, which was not specifically described in the report, was equivalent to the recommended treatment with a bleach solution.
* Employees stored their lunches, including such items as raw bacon, in the same cooler where finished sprouts were stored.
* Organic matter was seen on a table where sprouts were packaged, and a "biofilm-like buildup" was seen on sprouting trays after they were cleaned.
* What looked like mold was seen on walls and ceiling in a mung-bean sprouting room.
* Condensation dripped from the ceiling in production areas throughout the inspection period, which lasted close to a month.
* An outside lab that the firm used to test its water and sprouts used a method that was not validated for detecting Salmonella in those items.


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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time