Tofu can suck: Government moves to shut down Sacramento maker

Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corporation of Sacramento has been ordered by U.S. District Court to stop distributing adulterated and misbranded soy products, the U.S. Department of Justice says Monday.

justiceThe order also applies to the company’s dba, Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce International Enterprises, and its co-owners, Peng Xiang “Martin” Lin and Yuexiao “Opal” Lin.

The government contends that the company violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing food that is held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce to become adulterated and misbranded.

According to the initial complaint, the defendants have an extensive history of operating their food manufacturing facility under insanitary conditions, failing to follow current good manufacturing practice requirements and misbranding their food products.

As detailed in the complaint, the company receives, prepares, processes, manufactures, packs, labels, holds and distributes soy products including fried tofu, firm tofu, seasoned tofu and soy drinks.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants have agreed to settle the case and to be bound by a permanent injunction that requires Wa Heng to cease all food preparation, manufacturing and distribution.

If the defendants seek to resume preparing, manufacturing and distributing food, they must implement remedial measures set forth in the injunction, notify FDA of the measures taken, and receive written notification from FDA that they appear to be in compliance with the remedial requirements set forth in the injunction and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

According to the complaint, the defendants had a history of repeated violations. A 2015 inspection by FDA documented that the defendants failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure that production procedures do not contribute to contamination from any source. For example, as alleged in the complaint, FDA observed at least three employees spraying pressurized water from a water hose onto the production area floor, where FDA isolated Salmonella Havana, causing water to splash from the floor onto uncovered tofu and onto food contact surfaces, such as tofu presses and a filtration table. This was a repeat observation from the FDA’s 2012 inspection.

In addition, FDA observed employees touching the bottoms of buckets and crates that had been on the floor and then touching tofu. The hand wash sink in the production room had no hot water because the valve had been turned off and the sink was inaccessible due to crates in front of it. This was also a repeat observation from the 2012 inspection.

According to the complaint, the most recent inspection also found that the defendants failed to maintain equipment and utensils in an acceptable fashion through appropriate cleaning and sanitizing. FDA observed spray hose nozzles, air valves, water valves and light switches that contained heavy residue, as well as a tofu cutting knife that was placed on top of a tofu press with greenish-brown buildup and then used to slice tofu.

Further, the complaint alleged that during the 2015 inspection, FDA conducted environmental sampling of the facility and five subsamples tested positive for pathogenic Salmonella Havana. According to the complaint, the positive samples were taken from, among other places, a floor drain near a cooking tank, a caster wheel on a cart carrying tofu and the floor between the packing and processing rooms. As noted in the complaint, FDA isolated a nearly identical strain of Salmonella Havana during its 2011 and 2012 inspections.

During the 2015 inspection, FDA also collected samples of the defendants’ product labeling. The complaint alleges that the defendants’ products are misbranded because, among other things, some of the firm’s soy products fail to include a label containing an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count.

“Firms and individuals that violate federal food safety regulations pose a danger to public health,” says Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert in Sacramento. of the Eastern District of California.

Yelp pages to display California county health inspection ratings

Soon, diners checking out Sacramento County restaurants on Yelp will be getting a bit more information: each restaurant’s health inspection report and its green, yellow or red rating reports Cathie Anderson of The Sacremento Bee

yelp-395Luther Lowe, Yelp’s vice president of public policy, told The Sacremento Bee the goal is to put vital health information in a place where consumers can see it rather than having it at a .gov website that very few people actually access. The company’s fact sheet says millions of unique visitors access Yelp’s database each month: 21 million on the mobile app, 69 million on the mobile web page and 77 million on the desktop website.

“When people use Yelp to find a restaurant, they’re in the middle of deciding where they’re going to go eat,” Lowe said, “and so if we can show them the restaurant hygiene score when they’re looking, that’s incredibly powerful information for the consumer.”

Yelp already publishes restaurant inspections for Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, Riverside County and other government agencies around the nation. Over the past three years, it has added jurisdictions as they have put their data in a format compatible with Yelp’s system.

“We have our own format,” Lowe said, “and we announced to the world, ‘Listen, if you put the restaurant grade in Column B and restaurant address in Column C, then we’ve basically created a template format that your data will import into.’ That’s all they have to do to participate in the program. Now, Sacramento adheres to the format we provided.”

Soup shop owner collapses while preparing for reinspection

Less than a week ago I blogged about a Sacramento, CA soup shop that was up for sale after a recent health inspection unveiled a cockroach infestation. It appears closure plans have changed, and the owner has decided to remain open; or was in the process of it when he collapsed while preparing for a reinspection, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Daniel Pont, 70, has become well known for his one-man downtown restaurant, La Bonne Soupe, on Eighth Street. The tiny eatery with its gourmet soup and sandwiches topped the Sacramento Zagat Survey earlier this year but was closed last week after county health inspectors found both live and dead cockroaches.

The move shocked lunch goers who stand in long lines as they wait for Pont to prepare their lunches then handle customer transactions. Pont was working through the weekend to ready his restaurant for a fresh inspection this morning when he collapsed and was taken to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center on Morse Avenue.

Alicia Enriquez, the head of the county’s restaurant inspection program, said her inspectors arrived at La Bonne Soupe this morning and found a sign saying Pont had been taken to the hospital. She said the inspection would be rescheduled.