KREM.com reports that U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials found objectionable conditions at a North Idaho sprouts farm following negative test results for E. coli.
Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Moyie Springs had been implicated as the potential source of an E. coli outbreak that had sickened 17 people in five states.
E. coli test results on the type of sprouts the victims ate had been negative on Monday but the FDA noticed some questionable things at the farm.
Investigators noticed other types of sprouts being treated with water from rusty valves. They also noticed employees using scratched and chipped tennis rackets to scoop some sprouts. Investigators said they saw an employee using a corroded pitchfork to transfer sprouts into plastic bins.
The owner of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts said the negative results showed that his product was safe.
Staff at the Spokane Regional Health District said they were not surprised that the results on the sprouts came back negative. They said FDA investigators were at Evergreen Fresh Sprouts weeks after the breakout happened. They added that all of the people who became sick with E. coli had reported eating the clover sprouts that were traced back to Evergreen.
“We don’t usually have such a good association between a particular product and not only a particular product, but a product that was produced in one plant,” said Kim Papich.
Staff at the Spokane Regional Health District added that the particular strain of E. coli was very rare and was found in all of the patients during the recent outbreak.
“This is very specific testing that said these are the same organisms that are making these people sick,” said Papich.
Evergreen Fresh Sprouts did not return KREM 2 News’ calls regarding the FDA’s accusations.