FDA Sends Whole Foods Warning Letter Over “Serious Violations”

Whole Foods seems to be in the news quite often recently but unfortunately it is rarely for anything good. Whether they’re fighting false discrimination accusations, severely overcharging shoppers, destroying the environment with irresponsible packaging, or just being far more unclean than anyone thought. Now the Food and Drug Administration, aka the FDA, has stepped in and publicly sent a notice to Whole Foods saying they should be careful.

During an inspection of a food preparation facility in Massachusetts the FDA found “serious violations” which include leaving food, both processed and produce, exposed in areas where condensation would drip from ceiling joints, doorways, pipes, and fans. In addition, the facility failed to sterilize food prep stations. Workers did not change gloves or wash hands between tasks. They didn’t even take care to ensure that cleaning fluids did not touch foods.

That’s right, the food that you expect to be organic, clean, and wholesome has been contaminated a number of ways. It’s no wonder that there was a recall of Whole Foods products due to Listeria contamination. Whole Foods doesn’t even seem sorry either. Ken Meyer, executive vice president of operations for Whole Foods Market commented, “We were honestly surprised.” While the company responded to the FDA’s initial “inspection observations” back in March, the FDA said it deemed Whole Foods’ response unacceptable.

The FDA wrote in the warning letter, “Your response includes retraining of employees as a corrective action for most of the observed violations but you failed to mention adequate supervision over your specialized food processing operations and how retraining will ensure sustained compliance, We do not consider your response acceptable because you failed to provide documentation for our review, which demonstrates that all your noted corrective actions have been effectively implemented.”

Whole Foods stock dropped 11% since news got out that they failed FDA standards. It remains unclear whether they’ll be able to bounce back from this. Many people are turning to alternative groceries like Wegmans, Publix and Trader Joe’s. One thing is for sure, they’ll definitely have to clean up their act if they want to refresh their image that is quickly rotting like the organic produce they sell.