The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking Whole Foods Market Inc. to resolve unsanitary conditions at a plant in Massachusetts where the agency found listeria and other serious food-safety violations during a series of inspections in February.
The FDA said in a warning letter that it observed an employee spraying ammonium sanitizer near an open colander of salad and that another worker’s “upper sleeves were frequently touching” leafy greens as they were packaged. The agency also said it saw ready-to-eat pesto pasta and mushrooms quesadillas being prepared in a room where ceiling joints were dripping and observed an employee assembling cartons and packing quinoa cakes without washing hands or changing gloves.
“FDA has serious concerns that our investigators found your firm operating under these conditions,” the agency said in the letter, which was dated June 8.
The Everett, Massachusetts-based facility supplies prepared foods and other products to dozens of Whole Foods stores in the Northeast.
Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, didn’t have an immediate comment on the FDA letter. The agency said a prior company response from March wasn’t adequate because it failed to indicate that employee training would “ensure sustained compliance.” The FDA gave Whole Foods 15 working days to provide specifics on a plan to address the food-safety concerns.