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FDA Shuts Down California Sprout Grower Over Listeria Problems

A court ordered injunction has ceased the production of sprouts and various other foods by Alfred Louie, Inc., after the company failed to address multiple warnings and problems that may pose a risk for listeria monocytogens.  

On November 27, the FDA issued a press release announcing that a District Court Judge from California approved a consent decree of permanent injunction against Alfred Louie Inc., due to its unsanitary conditions recorded by FDA Inspectors.

The consent decree prohibits the company from processing or distributing any kind of food until the facility and its processing equipment are inspected by independent laboratories, which are to collect and analyze samples for signs of contamination. The manufacturer is also ordered to retain an independent sanitation expert to develop prevention plans for disease and eliminate unsanitary conditions that may allow contaminations such as listeria, E.coli, and salmonella enter the food production line.

The company is allowed to continue operations under these specific guidelines, but upon any indication that there may be contamination present, the FDA may cease production and recall any and all products deemed hazardous.

Alfred Louie Inc., is a company based in Bakersfield, California, that manufactures, receives, processes, and prepares ready-to-eat mung bean and soybean sprouts and wheat flour noodles along with packaging and distributing various dry refrigerator items. The company is run by three brother Alfred Louie, Gordon Louie, ad Victor Louie.

History of Deficiencies

Reports of deficiencies and unsanitary production processes have been recorded by the FDA since at least 2000. Most recently, in May the FDA determined Alfred Louie Inc.’s plant and sprouts products may be contaminated with listeria monocytogens. FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs released a statement explaining that Alfred Louie’s company should have upheld the responsibility to ensure safe products for customers, but will no longer be able to bypass regulations with the injunction issued.

“Companies have a responsibility to ensure that the food they produce is safe to eat and is made in accordance with federal law,” Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in the press release. “When a company continues to produce food that presents a risk for consumers, the FDA will take whatever steps necessary to protect public health.”

Sprout recalls are fairly common and have been found to carry many different forms of harmful bacteria in recent years, such as listeria and E.coli. Last year the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain announced the company would stop using clover sprouts due to repeated recalls.

Listeria infections may cause serious and potentially life-threatening complications, resulting in death in about 25% of all cases. For pregnant women, listeriosis illness may increase the risk of miscarriage or still births. Blood tests are usually required to diagnose the illness, which can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of listeriosis for healthy individuals may include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. If the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications.

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Image via: Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

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