Last March undeclared eggs in some pastries at Mai’s Bakery in Monterrey Park, CA brought about a recall of moon cakes and hopia mongo, as well as suspension of production.

But an undeclared allergen was not all that turned up during an inspection of the bakery premises by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last March 22-28. Inspectors said they also found numerous food-safety code violations, including:

— An open bag of raw peanuts in a burlap sack stored on top of a pallet containing bags of sodium benzoate.

— A plastic bag filled with burnt peanuts stored in an open cardboard box atop a sack of raw red beans.

— Three bottles of flavorings stored next to bottles of cleaning detergent, bleach, and a toilet plunger.

— A dirty measuring cup and a dirty metal spatula stored atop a box of uncapped soy bean salad oil.

— A dirty steam pan with green food residue on the inside mesh atop a pot containing sugar water syrup cooking on a steaming stove.

— A stack of steam pans with buildup of food debris stored on a wooden rolling riser. The same pans were later used to steam rainbow cakes.

— A small red altar with an incense tray and burned incense sticks adjacent to a wok and stove used to prepare various products and directly above buckets used to hold in-process food products.

— Uncovered mung bean paste stored in an open, unlabeled container in the walk-in cooler in the direct path of air flow from the cooler’s condenser unit.

— A trash-can style container labeled as flour that contained cooling sugar water syrup. The container had a cracked lip and food debris on the handles. Plastic was peeling off the inside bottom surface of a similar, adjacent container, also holding sugar water syrup.  

— Food debris buildup on the front, back and knobs of the stove; on the surfaces of five steaming stoves, and on mixers.

The FDA also charged that the bakery lacked hand-washing facilities equipped with paper towels.   

In a June 30 warning letter outlining the violations, FDA said Mai’s employees did not wash their hands thoroughly after returning from each absence to their work stations, instead returning work directly to the production room

According to inspectors, workers were not wearing disposable gloves nor hair nets, and were observed drinking coffee stored in a raw ingredient cooler.  In addition, the bakery was written up for its handling of both toxic materials and the use of sanitizing agents.

The dessert manufacturer’s mochi, moon cakes, rice cakes, and hopia were all found to be adulterated, as defined by the law, because of the violations that occurred in the making, packing or holding of the products.

FDA warned Mai’s about the need to control the growth of microorganisms by controlling pH and temperature levels.

The agency gave Mai’s 15 days to make corrective actions or face legal action.