Sprouts are a food item that have been associated with outbreaks of foodborne disease on multiple occasions in the past decade, including a major Salmonella saintpaul outbreak between February and April of 2009. In the 2009 outbreak, the CDC counted 235 confirmed outbreak victims, and likely thousands more people across the country were sickened.
Today,the FDA issued a press release on a Louisiana sprout company that is doing its sprout-growing brethren across the country a major disservice by staying in business. Hopefully, the FDA’s actions will shut the company down permanently. The press release states as follows:
The Department of Justice, in an action initiated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is seeking a permanent injunction against A Chau Sprouting Co., a sprout grower in Gretna, La., company owner and manager Quang “Mike” Trinh, and Hue Nguyen, the company production manager.
The complaint, filed on March 16, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, charges the defendants with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by preparing, packing, and holding sprouts under insanitary conditions, where they may have become contaminated with filth.
“The agency has repeatedly warned the company over several years that corrective actions need to be taken in this facility,” said Michael Chappell, acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA. “While no illnesses have been reported to date, this action is necessary to ensure that it remains that way.”
The ready-to-eat sprouts are distributed to wholesale suppliers, who in turn distribute them to customers located in Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.
Five FDA inspections over the past nine years, including an inspection conducted between August 2009 and September 2009, revealed that the defendants failed to implement basic food sanitation principles and practices for their sprout growing operation, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges violations that include equipment and facilities that were unclean or unable to be sufficiently cleaned, insanitary employee practices, and a poorly maintained facility.