When Chicago’s Edenic Soy and Tofu needed a kitchen to shoot a “how-to” video last June, it turned to its Twitter followers to find one. And no wonder, considering the state of its own plumbing.
Located near Rogers Park in North Chicago, Edenic makes soy and tofu that can be found in Windy City Whole Food Stores and at regional trendy green restaurants like the Blinde Faith Cafe in Evanston. Its tweets are often directed at Chicago’s growing population of vegans.
But a Feb. 1-8 federal inspection at Edenic Soy and Tofu by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration turned up a few problems, including some that were probably reason enough to go looking for that outside kitchen.
In a July 26 warning letter, FDA said plumbing at Edenic’s West Greenleaf Avenue facility was not adequate. Some of the ways that the plumbing failed to comply with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) included:
— Dead “legs” connected to the piping that supplied water to the ice machine, manufacturing sink and toilet. (Dead legs can foster growth of bacteria including human pathogens inside the pipes that supply water as an ingredient to tofu used in manufacturing.)
— No air gap or back flow existed to prevent contaminated water from going into the cooling tank.
— The tofu cooling sink, ice machine and mop sink all drained onto the wet production room floor, not into a sewer or some other waste disposal system.
— Standing water and organic material pooled on the production room floor where employees walk.
FDA also had concerns about Edenic employees not wearing gloves when handling food or doing an adequate job of washing their hands. During the inspection, FDA said it saw an employee touch organic material on the production room floor and then dip his hand into the tofu cooling sink without washing or sanitizing in between.
FDA also did not like Edenic’s use of a frayed and torn metal screen because of the risk of getting metal fragments in the tofu liquid.
Buckets used to hold tofu were coming into contact with a “dirty wooden shelf” and storage bins were coming into contact with the production room floor.
There was also a “black mold-like” substance on the packing machine and organic matter caked on a chain.
FDA saw vines on the outer wall as a “harborage for pests” and wooden equipment and utensils that it said couldn’t be thoroughly cleaned. It said not all employees were wearing hair nets.
Sufficient violations were found for FDA to declare Edenic’s products as “adulterated.” It also found that Edenic Firm Tofu and Edenic Soy drink products were misbranded.