Sprout grower recalls product 19 days after judge forces closure

On March 3, 2016, a federal court ordered Henry’s Farm Inc. of Woodford, Virginia, to close because of repeated contamination of its raw sprouts.

henrys_recalled_sproutsOn March 22, 2016, the same company recalled all packages of soybean sprouts because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following products are being recalled by the firm:

1-lb bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “Natto Soybean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of 1303020000 produced on or after March 1, 2016.

10-lb bags of soybean sprouts in black plastic bags labeled “Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” produced on or after March 1, 2016.
These items were distributed to retail stores in Virginia and Maryland.

The contamination was discovered through surveillance and monitoring coordinated by the Virginia Rapid Response Team (RRT), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Food Safety Program and subsequent analysis by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) that revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products. No illness has been reported to date.

FDA and Virginia to Henry’s Farm: you can’t sell sprouts anymore

Sometimes it’s time for a career change.

Folks change jobs for lots of reasons: boredom, a new challenge, opportunity, and others.

Or because of a consent decree of permanent injunction from a federal court.kevin.allen_.sprout-300x158

According to an FDA news release, a Virginia soy bean sprout company Henry’s Farm Inc and owner Soo C. Park are not allowed to receive, process, manufacture, prepare, pack, hold or distribute ready-to-eat soybean and mung-bean sprouts.

Henry’s farm has been the example of a bad food safety culture with FDA warning them that the place was a dump in 2012. And the situation continued in 2014. And then a recall in 2015.

The FDA worked with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) in conjunction with the Virginia Rapid Response Team to conduct multiple inspections and collect an extensive amount of environmental, in-process, and finished sprout product samples from Henry’s Farm, Inc., several of which tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono).

Under the consent decree, the company cannot process or distribute food until they demonstrate that its facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination in the food that it processes, prepares, stores and handles. Henry’s Farm, Inc. must, among other things, retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze samples for the presence of L. mono, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to control L. mono and to eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility. Once the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA may still require the company to take action if the agency discovers future violations of food safety practices.

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.