A number of "serious violations" were discovered at a Whole Foods preparation facility in Everett, Massachusetts last week, causing some of the supermarket chain's products to be "contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health," the Food and Drug Adminstration now claims in a blistering warning letter.
The FDA's most startling discovery was evidence of the disease-causing bacteria listeria present at the manufacturing facility. But the letter also claims that harmful chemicals like ammonium were sprayed onto salad greens, condensation from the ceiling was found dripping near a bunch of mushroom quesadillas, and water meant for washing soiled hands was seen splashed onto vegetables, utensils, and food containers.
Whole Foods' Everett facility supplies prepared dishes to 74 stores in states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey, according to the Boston Globe. And while the report from the FDA seems to spare no minute detail, the letter implies that there could be even more violations lurking at the facility.
"The above is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of deficiencies at your facility. It is your responsibility to assure your establishment is in compliance with all requirements of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act] and federal regulations," the letter reads. "You should take prompt measures to correct all violations described in this letter. Failure to take appropriate corrective actions may subject your firm and products to further actions, such as injunction, or seizure."
In light of the damning report from the FDA, Whole Foods' stock fell by 4 percent in midday trading on Wednesday. The company, for its part, says it was blindsided by the warning letter.
"[We were] honestly surprised,” Ken Meyer, executive vice president of operations for Whole Foods, told the Globe. “We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention.”
Still, the FDA claims that the supermarket chain's response to the accusations has been unacceptable in the wake of the review. According to the Wall Street Journal, the supermarket chain has until the end of the month to addresses the issues.
"[Y]our response includes retraining of employees as a corrective action for most of the observed violations but you failed to mention adequate supervision over your specialized food processing operations and how retraining will ensure sustained compliance," the letter reads. "We do not consider your response acceptable because you failed to provide documentation for our review, which demonstrates that all your noted corrective actions have been effectively implemented."
[via Boston Globe]