Soybean Sprouts Recalled After Another Positive Listeria Test
Soybean sprouts produced by Henry’s Farm Inc. are being recalled due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The Woodford, Virginia corporation was forced to close its doors on March 3rd after inspections revealed violations of food safety regulations. The recall affects all packages of soybean sprouts distributed by the company, which has a history of Listeria-related food safety problems.
Virginia state agencies discovered and identified the potential threat to public health. The contamination was initially identified through coordinated efforts of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Food Safety Program and the Virginia Rapid Response Team (RRT). The Virginia Department of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) then conducted tests on the sprouts. DCLS analysis of the test results revealed the presence of Listeria in the Henry’s Farm product, and VDACS released the recall announcement.
Recalled packages of sprouts were distributed to Maryland and Virginia retail stores.
The recall applies to soybean sprouts produced on or after March 1, 2016. The packages of sprouts are branded and labeled as follows:
- 1 lb. bags of soybean sprouts packaged in clear plastic bags labeled “Natto Soybean Sprouts” with UPC code 1303020000, and
- 10 lb. bags of soybean sprouts in black plastic bags labeled “Soy Bean Sprouts.”
The announcement did not provide a UPC code for the recalled 10 lb. bags.
Violations of Food Safety Regulations Commonplace at Henry’s Farm
Since 2012, growing operations and finished sprouts at Henry’s Farm tested positive for Listeria multiple times. The positive tests led to multiple warnings, violations and recalls. These admonishments had seemingly no effect on operations at the establishment.
The situation reached a boiling point earlier this month, when state health officials and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the farm and found multiple food safety violations. The inspectors found evidence of persistent rodent infection and filthy food processing equipment at Henry’s Farm facilities. The FDA also collected samples of sprouts and samples from facility equipment for testing. Tests on the samples came back positive for Listeria for the fourth time in five years. The corporation also issued sprout recalls in 2012, 2014, and 2015 – the three previous years its sprouts tested positive for Listeria, and the first of two recalls this year.
The inspection results prompted the FDA to seek a consent decree from a US District Court. The Court granted the decree, which made it illegal for Henry’s Farm to process, receive, manufacture, prepare, hold, pack or distribute ready-to-eat soybean and mung-bean sprouts. The recall announced on March 22nd identified soybean sprouts as the product potentially contaminated with Listeria.
As of March 22nd, no illness associated with consumption of the sprouts has been reported.