In a June 10 update, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detailed the results of three different inspections done at the Evergreen Fresh Sprouts facility in Moyie Springs, Idaho. Raw clover sprouts from the facility have been linked to 17 cases of E. coli O121 in five states, although test results were reportedly negative for the pathogen. Meanwhile, consumers are advised not to eat raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Produce and to throw away any of the product they may have at home. Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating potentially contaminated sprouts should consult a health-care provider. The June 10 update states:
“FDA conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014, and June 6, 2014. Investigators observed conditions including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves directly into sprouting vats containing growing sprouts; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets with scratches, chips, and frayed plastic being used to scoop mung bean sprouts from the harvester to the conveyor belt leading to finished product storage bins; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts into plastic tubs during harvest; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean seeds inside a soak vat.”
The agency further describes in the update what the inspectors found at the facility:
“The FDA also conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC’s operation on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014, and June 6, 2014. At the time of the inspection, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts had already ceased the production of clover sprouts, but mung bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts were still being produced. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed:
- Dead leg pipe ends which cannot be flushed, located inside the sprout growing/harvesting room. The pipes provide water to rinse and mist sprouts in the room.
- Apparent mold growth and dripping condensate on a water pipe that had separated from the drywall and was attached to the watering system in the sprout growing/harvesting room.
- Condensate dripping directly into sprouting vats containing growing sprouts.
- A rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system located directly above the mung beans, with a pipe attached to the system with an orange build up, being used to water the mung beans on at least four occasions.
- Two employees using tennis rackets with scratches, chips, frayed plastic, and sponge-type handles to scoop mung bean sprouts from the water in the harvester onto the belt which fed the sprouts into finished product storage bins and using the same rackets the following day in the bubbler during alfalfa sprout harvesting.
- An employee using a pitchfork with visible corroded metal and rough welds to transfer mung bean sprouts into plastic tubs, and the same pitchfork being stored in direct contact with mung bean sprouts during the harvesting process.
- Mung bean sprouts in direct contact with rusty and corroded clamps used to hold the growing cabin together during sprout growth in the mung bean room.
- Rough welds, debris, and apparent corroded areas inside the mung bean seed soak vat. An employee was using a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood to agitate mung beans soaking inside the mung bean seed soak vat.
- Cracked, damaged, and chipped food contact surfaces on sprouting vats that contained growing sprouts, on storage bins that contained finished broccoli and alfalfa sprouts, and on mung bean growing cabins with mung beans present.”