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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

US Attorney Shuts Down Tofo Manufacturer

tofu-featuredThe U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corporation doing business as Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce International Enterprises (Wa Heng) and the firm’s co-owners, Peng Xiang “Martin” Lin and Yuexiao “Opal” Lin, to prevent the distribution of adulterated and misbranded soy products, the Department of Justice announced today.

The Department filed a complaint in the Eastern District of California on June 17, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The complaint alleged that the defendants 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 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.

“The American public deserves to be assured that companies and individuals preparing and distributing food subject to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act are complying with federal law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively with the FDA to ensure a safe food supply.”

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. The complaint alleged that Martin Lin’s responsibilities include the firm’s daily operations, raw material purchases, facility and equipment maintenance and production schedule and that Opal Lin’s responsibilities include training employees and overseeing employee performance.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants 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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California. “The Department will not hesitate to hold companies and individuals accountable in order to protect the American people from adulterated food.”

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Raquel Toledo of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Kennedy of the Eastern District of California and Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Charlotte Hinkle of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of General Counsel’s Food and Drug Division.

Customer Complaints of Illness prompt Boathouse Farms Recall

Bolthouse Farms is voluntarily recalling a selection of protein drinks due to possible spoilage that may cause the beverages to appear lumpy, taste unpleasant and have an off odor.

These products should not be consumed. The issue was identified after the company received consumer complaints, including reports of illness. The cause of this issue is currently under investigation.

The recall includes Protein PLUS shakes with ‘best by’ dates between 6/20/16 to 9/18/16:

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION UPC CODE
Protein PLUS Chocolate 325ml/11 oz 0-71464-01868-9
Protein PLUS Chocolate 450ml/15.2 oz 0-71464-30650-2
Protein PLUS Chocolate 946ml/32oz 0-71464-30651-9
Protein PLUS Vanilla Bean 325ml / 11 oz 0-71464-01867-2
Protein PLUS Vanilla Bean 15.2 oz 0-71464-01639-5
Protein PLUS Vanilla Bean 32 oz 0-71464-01640-1
Protein PLUS Coffee 325ml / 11 oz 0-71464-01869-6
Protein PLUS Coffee 450ml/15.2 oz 0-71464-01627-2
Protein PLUS Coffee 946ml/32oz 0-71464-01628-9
Protein PLUS Coconut 450ml/15.2 oz 0-71464-01892-4
Protein PLUS Strawberry 450ml/15.2 oz 0-71464-01890-0
Protein PLUS Strawberry 946ml/32oz 0-71464-01891-7
Protein PLUS Banana Honey Almond Butter 325ml/11 oz 0-71464-01918-1
Protein PLUS Banana Honey Almond Butter 450ml/15.2 oz 0-71464-01893-1
The recall also affects the following Mocha Cappuccino products.
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION DATE CODE UPC CODE
Mocha Cappuccino Perfectly Protein 450ml/15.2oz Best by: 9/2/16 0-71464-30051-7
Mocha Cappuccino Perfectly Protein 946ml/32oz Best by: 8/2/16 and 8/3/16 0-71464-30050-0

The best by dates are printed on the cap and label at the neck of the bottle and the UPC appears on the bar code.

The recall affects 3.8 million bottles that have been distributed nationally in the United States.

Peas Recalled Due to Listeria

Pinnacle Foods Inc. is voluntarily recalling a limited number of C&W Early Harvest Petite Peas and C&W Petite Peas because they may contain Listeria monocytogenesListeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The frozen products are being recalled as a precaution with the health and safety of our consumers as our top priority. Pinnacle Foods initiated the recall after the contract packer of the products, National Frozen Foods, notified the Company of the issue. The Food and Drug Administration has been made aware of this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recalled products were distributed nationally and online. All affected distributors and retail customers are being notified and the recalled products are being removed from store shelves.

The recalled items can be identified by a “Best by” code printed on the back of the bag. Only the following codes are affected by this recall:

C&W Early Harvest Petite
UPC 0-70332-00159-4
16 oz. bag
Peas C&W Petite Peas
UPC 0-70332-00158-7
16 oz. bag
Mar-07-18 Mar-23-18
Mar-17-18 Mar-28-18
Mar-28-18 Mar-29-18
Mar-29-18

Dutch Treat Foods, Inc., of Zeeland, MI, is voluntarily recalling 3087 pounds of Sweet Pea Pasta Salad due to one ingredient in the product being recalled by one of its suppliers. The product is being recalled due to the potential of being contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. There have been no reported illnesses to date associated with this product.

This recall is due to J.R. Simplot Co. (Simplot), of Boise, ID, recalling select products having the potential of being contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem. The potential contamination did not originate at the Dutch Treat Foods facility.

The recalled Sweet Pea Pasta Salad was sold bulk in 10 pound cases (2 five pound bags) to two distributors in Michigan, Lipari Foods and Sysco Grand Rapids, under the Dutch Treat Foods label. It was also sold in retail stores in Michigan and directly from the Dutch Treat Foods facility in bulk 10 pound cases, 2 pound containers, and 14 ounce containers under the Dutch Treat Foods label.

The recalled product has “USE BY” dates of 06/09/16 through 07/01/16.

The distributor and retail stores have been contacted and instructed to remove any product from their shelves and to dispose of any remaining product in their inventory.

Botulism Risk in AI Rasheed Sardine

Greenland Trading Corporation of Paterson, New Jersey is recalling AI Rasheed Sardine, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium  botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned  not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Botulism, a potentially  fatal form of food poisoning,  can  cause  the following  symptoms:  general  weakness,  dizziness,  double­ vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing,  weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems  should seek immediate  medical attention.

AI Rasheed  Sardine was shipped  to retail stores in California,  Florida,  Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

AI Rasheed Sardine is in a vacuum  package with expiration date 3/2017. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The  potential  for  contamination was  noted  after  New  York  State – Department   of Agriculture sampling and analysis.