Food Safety Violations Force California Soy Company to Cease Operations

Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. cannot resume business until it meets FDA health requirements

Tofu Slices / Food Safety Violations Forces California Soy Company to Cease Operations
Image: Pixabay
June 28, 2016

A California soy product manufacturer has been shut down due to repeated food safety violations.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. The agreement requires the business to immediately cease manufacturing and distributing food until it comes into compliance with federal food safety laws.

The Sacramento, CA company distributes soy products, including tofu and soy drink.

FDA investigators, during a 2015 inspection of the company's facility, observed several food violations. These included inadequate hand washing, improperly cleaned equipment, and failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food and food contact surfaces. In addition, several environmental samples tested positive for salmonella. As previous inspections had uncovered similar conditions, the FDA sought legal action against the company.

As a result of the court action, Wa Heng is prohibited from receiving, preparing, processing, manufacturing, labeling, packing, and distributing any articles of food. To be eligible to resume operations, the company must retain an independent expert to develop a pathogen control program, conduct microbial and pathogen testing of the company's facility, and provide employee training on sanitary food handling techniques. If the FDA determines that the company may resume operations, the consent decree requires the company to conduct periodic, independent audits to ensure ongoing compliance.

"Salmonella in a food facility is a public health risk and is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness," said Melinda K. Plaisier, in a written statement. Plaisier is the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "When a company continues to violate federal food regulations, the FDA must take necessary action to protect public health."

Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the organism. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment. In some, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with products from Wa Heng.

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