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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Chu Minh Tofu Company loses food-processing license, fined $17,800

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the food-processing license of Chu Minh Corp., which produces tofu and other soy products, after several inspections found on-going sanitation problems with the Seattle business.

In addition to revoking the company’s license to process food, WSDA also assessed a civil penalty of $17,800 against the company and required all products at the facility to be destroyed. Notices about the license revocation are being sent to all retail outlets and restaurants that have purchased or carry Chu Minh products.

As a result of these actions, the company cannot process any food at this location. Chu Minh has 10 days to appeal and request agency reconsideration of the order, but it cannot operate as a food processing operation during that appeal period.

This enforcement action follows several visits to Chu Minh where WSDA inspectors consistently found problems with unsanitary conditions, poor sanitation practices by employees, pest infestations and a general failure to protect food products from contamination.

During the most recent inspection on March 6, inspectors noted many of the same problems observed during earlier inspections.

WSDA’s Food Safety and Consumer Services Division typically tries to work with businesses to correct problems when violations of the state food production and handling requirements are discovered. When these education efforts fail to improve conditions, WSDA has the authority to suspend licenses or assess civil penalties.

In this case, WSDA had twice issued orders to suspend Chu Minh Corps.’ processing license. Both times, the company signed settlement agreements in which they promised to meet food-processing requirements. The most recent agreement was in October 2012.

However, the continued violations of food processing standards and the failure to fully pay earlier fines associated with previous violations led to the decision to revoke Chu Minh’s food processing license.

Consumers who purchased Chu Minh products are advised to dispose of them. For questions, contact WSDA’s Food Safety and Consumer Services Division at foodsafety@agr.wa.gov or 800-843-7890.