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DOJ Moves to Close Sprout Company

As far back as at least 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been warning a Louisiana sprout company about its “seriously poor sanitary conditions and controls.”

Now, FDA has run out of patience. It has enlisted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to go after a permanent injunction that could shut down the Gretna, LA-based A Chau Sprouting Co. and prevent Quang “Mike” Trinh, owner and manger, and Hue Nguyen, production manager, from being in business.

DOJ filed the action Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  Chau Sprouting, Trinh, and Nguyen are charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by preparing, packing, and holding sprouts under insanitary conditions where they may have been contaminated with filth.

“The agency has repeatedly warned the company over several years that corrective actions need to be taken in this facility,” said Michael Chappell, acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA. “While no illnesses have been reported to date, this action is necessary to ensure that it remains that way.”

FDA said the ready-to-eat sprouts are distributed to wholesale suppliers, who in turn distribute them to customers located in Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

Five FDA inspections over the past nine years, including an inspection conducted between August 2009 and September 2009, revealed that the defendants failed to implement basic food sanitation principles and practices for their sprout growing operation, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges violations that include equipment and facilities that were unclean or unable to be sufficiently cleaned, insanitary employee practices, and a poorly maintained facility.

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