FDA Shuts Down Tofu Manufacturer Over Contamination Concerns

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received a court order on Monday to force Sacramento-based Henh Wong Fresh Produce to stop operations. The injunction comes after the sprout and tofu manufacturer’s alleged repeated failures to address sanitation and food safety violations for over a decade. The FDA has inspected the Henh Wong facility a total of six times: in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2014. Each visit continued to find serious health and safety concerns.

Among the alleged safety violations reported:

  • A dirty broom was used to clean sprout processing equipment
  • An employee touched the lid of a dumpster that was covered in black slimy residue and old food build-up before handling ready-to-eat tofu, without washing  hands
  • An employee touched a scale stained with black residue before packing sprouts, without washing hands or changing gloves
  • “Black and brown” residue was found on processing equipment

Henh Wong was also cited for repeated pest control problems. During the most recent 2014 inspection, FDA investigators allegedly found live cockroaches and flies in the tofu production room, dead cockroaches in the sprout processing room, and a live cockroach inside a plastic container for “ready-to-eat” tofu.

Every inspection was followed by a detailed written notice of unsanitary conditions and manufacturing practice violations. In 2003, the FDA sent Henh Wong Fresh Produce a formal warning letter. The company never answered. The 2010 inspection resulted in the FDA holding a regulatory meeting with Henh Wong to discuss the ongoing violations.

While over the years Henh Wong has taken steps to address some of the violations, the FDA has stated that “the company’s efforts overall have been inadequate” and that “[a]fter multiple inspections finding a continuing pattern of violations, [the company] has shown that they are unwilling to clean up their practices without legal intervention.”

The injunction will force the Henh Wong facility to shut down until it has, among other measures, hired a sanitation expert and implemented a full food safety and control plan.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“FDA Acts to Stop Sacramento Tofu and Sprout Manufacturer from Selling Adulterated Food,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration web site, http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm457277.htm, last accessed August 5, 2015.
“Permanent Injunction: CA Produce Firm Agrees To Remain Shut Down,” Food Safety News web site, August 4, 2015; http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/08/permanent-injunction-ca-produce-firm-agrees-to-remain-shut-down/#.VcIMnflViko.