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Oldest Tofu Maker Pays Fine

America’s oldest tofu company, San Francisco-based Quong Hop, has agreed to pay a $90,000 fine and without admitting to any wrongdoing agreed to comply with a list of food safety improvements.

Quong Hop (“Great Unity”) has been making tofu daily since opening in 1906 to serve the Asian Community in the San Francisco Bay Area.  According to the tofu shop’s website, founder Sing Hau Lee “brought with him is family’s tofu making secrets that had been a tradition for generations.”  He promised, “only the highest integrity and quality methods would be applied to the family business.”

It has fallen down on those promises in recent years.  According to John Wilson, deputy prosecutor with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office Consumer and Environmental Unit, there has been a pattern of violations at Quong Hop & Co. going back two years.

A civil complaint, filed and settled on the same day last week, has now spelled out the violations and provided a list of agreed to fixes.

The civil complaint charged: failure to maintain the plant in a sanitary condition; failure to exclude pests from the food processing areas; failure to maintain plumbing to prevent contamination and floor drainage; failure to provide adequate hand-washing facilities; failure to protect food from contamination; and selling impure food on or about September 2007.

Washington State inspectors in 2007 found product shipped from Quong Hop to the Evergreen State was contaminated with the Listeria bacteria.

In the settlement, the company was found to be in compliance, having agreed to test finished products, use a date code and tracking system for all products, developed a food safety plan; and offering annual training to all employees.

The company is located in South San Francisco at 40 Airport Blvd.  It sells tofu products to grocery stores and restaurants under brand names that include Soy Deli, Soy Fresh, Raquel’s and Melissa’s.

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