A bakery in New Mexico is on notice from the FDA for failing to take required steps to ensure that food handling techniques, facility cleaning and sanitization, and pest protection are in accordance with food safety regulations.

Staff from the Food and Drug Administration inspected the Gallup, NM, location of K&B Company Inc. on May 8-15 and discovered the “serious violations,” according to a July 5 warning letter made public by the FDA in recent days.

“… your bakery products have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health,” according to the letter sent to company president Brent Bischoff by LaTonya M. Mitchell, FDA’s Denver district director.

“These conditions cause the bakery products produced at your facility to be adulterated within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

Specific problems cited in the warning letter included:

  • Failure to minimize the growth of microorganisms, specifically mold, and protect against contamination in the following areas: Walls, overhead door, and cooling fan in areas used to cool baked bread, Condenser fans and support pole in walk-in refrigerator used to store uncovered apple pies, three-compartment sink used to clean in process equipment.
  • Peeling paint was observed in the walk-in refrigerator used to store uncovered pies.
  • Peeling pain was observed in the incoming supply room above ingredient containers which had broken lids, no lids, and lids not fully covering materials.
  • Failure to provide food handlers with appropriate training in food handling techniques and food protection principles.
  • An employee was observed touching ready-to-eat bread and rolls with bare hands to determine if they were cool enough for packaging.

According to the warning letter, the bakery was previously cited for these same or similar violations during a May 2014 inspection.

  • Condensation buildup was observed along the ceiling, sides of wall, along the door frame, and walk-in freezer fans located above finished product.
  • Dark brown condensation buildup was observed in the final bread rolling area
  • Condensation was observed dripping directly onto uncovered dough.
  • Failure to provide adequate screening or other protection against pests to prevent entry of pests into the production facility.

According to the warning letter, the bakery was also previously cited for these same or similar violations during the October 2010 and May 2014 inspections.

  • The production manager failed to know the correct order of operation to properly clean and sanitize utensils at the three-compartment sink, and the rinse water was observed to be cloudy and dirty, providing a possible source of cross-contamination during the inspection.
  • The president of the company lacked basic sanitization knowledge.

“When (the president was) asked about the sanitation procedures, he commented on cleaning the floors and was not aware of equipment cleaning and maintenance schedules. He also did not know the required sanitizer concentration and did not provide test strips to employees for verification,” according to the warning letter.

Another problem inspectors reported was that the firm had not changed water filters since 2013. Dark brown and slimy residue was observed in the filter, which was used in the production of dough and to clean large pieces of equipment.

Also, recently used trays covered with dough residue were observed being slammed on the floor to remove particles and then placed onto a cart, without washing, and fresh dough was immediately placed on the trays.

The FDA allows companies 15 working days to respond to warning letters. If companies fail to properly correct violations, legal action can result in seizure of products and injunctions stopping operations. As of Aug 11, the FDA had not posted a closeout notice regarding K&B Company Inc.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)