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FDA Cites Whole Foods for ‘Serious Violations’

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is giving Whole Foods Market until the end of June to correct several “serious violations” in food preparation discovered during a February inspection of the retailer’s North Atlantic Kitchen.

In a letter dated June 8, FDA told the Austin, Texas-based natural and organic grocer that employees at its facility failed to manufacture, package and store foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for microorganism growth. The facility, located in Everett, Mass., prepares ready-to-eat foods for 74 stores in Northeastern states.

Among the many violations listed, FDA reported that employees at the facility prepared and stored various ready-to-eat food products beneath areas dripping condensation from ceiling joints, drainage pipes and fans; held food and preparation utensils near hand-washing stations without splash guards; and packaged ready-to-eat foods without hand-washing or changing gloves between tasks. FDA also detected evidence of Listeria on surfaces and equipment.

Whole Foods issued a statement saying it had corrected the issues mentioned in an FDA warning letter from February, and was surprised not to find the “thorough and tangible steps” taken at the facility mentioned in the latest letter. However, FDA said Whole Foods’ previous response “failed to provide documentation” such as photographs, invoices and work orders for review, which would demonstrate that the retailer had implemented all corrective actions. Whole Foods must provide such documentation to FDA by late June.

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