U Joo Foods, a Chicago sprout grower and processor and the company’s owner and president, Kiyoung Chin have agreed to enter into a consent decree of permanent injunction sought by the Justice Department on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Under the consent decree, U Joo Foods and its owner are prohibited from processing and distributing food until they demonstrate to the FDA that the facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination in the food that they process, prepare, store, and handle. In addition, they must routinely test the water where the sprouts are grown for evidence of contamination.
U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, signed the consent decree on Feb. 8, 2013.
According to the complaint filed in connection with the consent decree, U Joo Foods and its owner prepared, packed, and held sprouts under unsanitary conditions. The FDA conducted an inspection in 2012, to determine if the firm corrected violations found in 2011. During the 2012 inspection, the FDA found that U Joo Foods continued to have deficiencies, including workers who did not sanitize their gloves prior to touching sprouts, inadequate toilet and hand-washing facilities, and inadequate cleaning procedures evidenced by residues of sprouts on the production equipment.
The FDA also found continued presence of Listeria welshimeri, a non-pathogenic bacterium in the same genus as Listeria monocytogenes.
“The FDA takes strong enforcement actions against companies that fail to meet federal safety regulations protecting consumers from foodborne illness,” said Acting Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaisier. “While no illnesses in this particular case have been reported, we are taking actions to ensure that products purchased by consumers are not contaminated with filth or cause illness.”
The ready-to-eat sprouts are distributed primarily in the Chicago area.
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