FDA to Virginia sprout producer: your place is still a dump

Coral Beach of The Packer writes that criminal charges may be the next step in Virginia’s efforts to protect the public from Henry’s Farm, a fresh sprout grower that has been on officials’ food safety radar because of listeria since April 2012.

kevin.allen.sproutThe 32-month case is the longest running investigation that Pam Miles, supervisor for the state agriculture department’s food safety and security program, can recall. Miles and Matt Ettinger, coordinator of the program’s food safety rapid response team, have been working with staff from the Food and Drug Administration on the problems at Henry’s Farm.

Ettinger said Henry’s owner, Soo Park, has made some improvements, but problems remain unresolved even though the business burned down in December 2012 and was rebuilt. Ettinger said Listeria has been found in product and on surfaces at the previous facility and the new growing facility.

A man who answered the phone at Henry’s Farm hung up when asked about the situation.

“We are currently considering what action we can take against them,” Miles said Dec. 3. “Compliance is voluntary. We don’t have administrative fines so we have to go through the criminal courts if a problem isn’t resolved and the public safety is at risk.”

Park voluntarily shut down operations at his Woodford, Va., facility in November after Virginia officials confiscated and destroyed all finished product, seeds and growing sprouts. The grower issued a recall Nov. 24. Because of the facility’s history of Listeria problems, Virginia food safety staff has been inspecting and testing at Henry’s every four months, Miles said.