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Justice helps FDA shut down noodle and sprout distribution

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.

Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.

Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.

But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.

beansprouts_406x250The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.

Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request.   The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.

According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.

“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location.  Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.

According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.

USDistrctCourtMinn_406x250 Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens.  In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.

FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014.  As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.

Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation.  The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.

 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News

Justice helps FDA shut down noodle and sprout distribution

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.

Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.

Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.

But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.

beansprouts_406x250The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.

Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request.   The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.

According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.

“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location.  Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.

According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.

USDistrctCourtMinn_406x250 Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens.  In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.

FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014.  As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.

Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation.  The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.

 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

Food Vendors Shut Down for Health Code Violations at Western Montana Fair

Three food vendors were shut down Friday at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula, MT, after health department inspectors found that “hundreds of pounds of food” the concessionaires were planning to serve had not been properly refrigerated for several days.
Other violations involved improper storage of food, unsanitized dishes, and employees not washing their hands, apparently in one case because not enough water was available.
Although three people reportedly felt ill after eating food served by the vendors, there were no official reports of foodborne illnesses linked to the fair, said Amanda Poston, an infectious disease nurse with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
“I’m the one who gets the reports, and we have not had any confirmed cases,” she told Food Safety News.

The three vendors — Route 66, Delightful Goodies and The Candy Stand — which are all affiliated with North Star Amusements of Cody, WY, will have to prove they can provide safe food or they won’t be allowed into the fair next year, a department official said.
“In order for those vendors to come back to Missoula next year, they are going to need to contact us and let us know how they are going to be able to do it safely next year,” said Environmental Health Specialist Alisha Johnson.
Johnson noted that in the six years she had worked for the department, she had never seen a food vendor be shut down at the fair.
“Really, the responsibility rests on the operator themselves to know what the regulations are, and the put proper food safety protocols in place, and that simply wasn’t happening here,” she said.
Department inspectors had talked to the vendors earlier in the week about the observed food code violations and what needed to be done to remain open, but their advice was not being followed.

“They just couldn’t quite meet those requirements, and we realized that it was irresponsible to continue to let them operate,” Johnson said.

On Monday, a local newspaper slammed the carnival contractor and the fair organizers for the situation, editorializing that, “These folks were clearly, repeatedly, in violation of health regulations that could have sickened their customers.”

Food Safety News

Los Burritos Mexicanos Shut Down for E. coli Investigation

The name of the Lombard, IL restaurant closed Friday by the DuPage County Health Department did not remain a secret for even the weekend.

The DuPage County Health Department has confirmed Los Burritos Mexicanos was shut down because of its possible association with an investigation into an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The restaurant at 1015 E St. Charles Road was closed at 5 p.m.. Friday.

Jason Gerwig, spokesman for the health department, said the total number of cases involved in the outbreak was about ten. Eight people were treated at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. Four were admitted to the hospital for further care. Four others did not require hospital admission.

The restaurant was closed as a precaution, according to officials.

Food Safety News

Fresh & Easy to Shut Unsold Stores

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market here said Tuesday it plans to shut down approximately 50 stores over the next two weeks — locations it is not selling to Yucaipa Cos. — although it will continue to seek buyers for those locations.

Yucaipa, the Los Angeles-based investment firm, announced Tuesday it plans to purchase approximately 150 of the 200 Fresh & Easy stores located in California, Arizona and Nevada. The sale, for terms that were not disclosed, is expected to close within three months, after which Tesco, the United Kingdom-based company that operates Fresh & Easy, plans to exit the U.S. completely, a company spokesman told SN. In a statement, Tesco said it would loan the buisness about $ 125 million, and said its total cash outlay for the exit would not exceed about $ 236 million.


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Tesco began opening the small-format Fresh & Easy stores in mid-2007. The deal will also include the distribution and food production facilities Fresh & Easy operates in Riverside, Calif., which Yucaipa said it will retain. The stores will continue to operate under the Fresh & Easy name, a Yucaipa spokesman noted, though the company said it anticipates making “some changes” to make them more relevant to consumers.

The spokesman also told SN Yucaipa expects to name a new management team for the stores for the stores next week. He declined to confirm widespread speculation that Jim Keyes, the former chairman and chief executive officer of 7-Eleven, would head that team nor whether the stores would eventually adopt the Wild Oats banner, which Keyes and a group of financial partners owns.

Ron BurkleRon Burkle, managing director of Yucaipa, said Fresh & Easy offers “a tremendous foundation” from which to grow.

“Tesco should be applauded for giving customers an affordable, healthy, convenient shopping experience,” he said. “Its dedicated employees and great base of customers give us a solid starting point to complete Tesco’s vision — with some changes we think will make it even more relevant to today’s consumer.

“We plan on continuing to build Fresh & Easy into a ‘next-gneration convenience retail experience,’ providing busy consumers with more local and healthy access for their daily needs.”

In announcing Tesco’s exit, Philip Clarke, Tesco CEO, said, “The decision [to sell to Yucaipa] represents the best outcome for Tesco shareholders and Fresh & Easy’s stakeholders. It offers us an orderly and efficient exit from the U.S. market, while protecting the jobs of more than 4,000 colleagues at Fresh & Easy.”

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