Ongoing sanitation problems and violations of food-processing standards, as well as a lack of cooperation from management, has led Washington State’s Department of Agriculture to suspend the license of a Western Washington food processor, according to a press release from the department.
The department ordered the company, G. Wolf Enterprises, also known as Wolf Pack Cannery, in Snohomish County to cease all food-processing operations as of Sept. 13.
The food processor cans, jars and bags products for small farmers and businesses in the region.
When Food Safety News tried to contact the processor on Sept. 18, a message left on the company’s phone said it was unavailable.
The company’s website says that the processor works with small and large companies “with production needs of hundreds to thousands of containers.”
The website also says that the processor is inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the state’s agriculture department for food safety and that it has a processing license from the state.
According to the department’s press release, during previous visits, food-safety inspectors noted violations of food-processing laws and standards that included wooden storage trays that could not be properly sanitized, a lack of clear separation between processing rooms and a machine shop, mildew in a walk-in cooler, jar lids stored in open containers leaving them easily contaminated, and deviations from proper canning processes that could lead to illness.
On Sept. 12, department food safety officers began a routine inspection of the facility but were unable to complete their inspection due to interference by company management, a violation of state regulations that require food-processing license holders to permit the unimpeded inspection of their facilities.
Department spokesman Mike Louisell told Food Safety News that the inspectors felt “threatened” and could not complete the inspection. Based on that, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office shut the plant down.
Because department officials couldn’t finish the inspection or get a customer list from the company, it cannot supply information about conditions at the plant or customers’ names. As a result, it also doesn’t know what labels are on any of the products processed by the company. This leaves consumers without any way to know for certain whether or not they may have bought and/or eaten any of the products.
The company’s website, however, does indicate that it processes products labeled with brand names such as MarketSpice, The Bread Dip Company, FungusAmongUs and McSweet, among others.
Department spokesman Hector Castro said that the shutdown does not involve a recall and that no product has been shipped out of the plant since it was shut down.
After earlier inspections that found some food-safety concerns, the plant fixed the problems and came back into compliance with food-safety regulations, Castro said.
The department may reinstate the company’s license if the company allows the inspectors access and complies with all food-processing requirements.
Castro said that inspections are an essential part of state regulations pertaining to food safety, and, when a company doesn’t cooperate with inspectors, this goes against the goal of ensuring that a company is providing safe food for consumers.
“Consumers have confidence in the food they eat, and inspections are an important part of that,” he said.© Food Safety News