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More Bad News for Raw Milk Cheese Makers – FDA Inspection Report of Sally Jackson

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OBSERVATION 1 – Employees did not wash and sanitize hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility after each absence from the work station and at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated. Specifically, the owner was observed throughout the day, to alternately perform cheese making functions, such as, stirring cheese curd with bare hands and wrapping cheese in grape leaves, with outside activities, such as milking / feeding livestock, without any hand washing being observed.

OBSERVATION 2 – Failure to provide hand washing facilities at each location in the plant where needed. Specifically, the approximately 10 inch diameter, shallow bowl hand sink in the vestibule is too small for proper use, The sink drain pipe and water supply lines were disconnected. The two-compartment processing room sink was not set up for hand washing and there were no towels or soap available at either fixture.

OBSERVATION 3 – Failure to use water, which is of adequate sanitary quality in food and on food-contact surfaces. Specifically, the well water supply for the facility is not currently in microbiological compliance. The most recent water analysis was unsatisfactory for total coliform as evidenced by a test report from10/4/10 observed at the facility. The well has not been retested.

OBSERVATION 4 – Plumbing is not of adequate size and design to carry sufficient quantities of water to required locations throughout the plant. Specifically, the immediate water supply for the plant’s plumbing is gravity fed from an overhead (approx. 8 feet) storage tank (approx. 50 gallons) with insufficient pressure and capacity to meet the continuous sanitary needs of the facility.

OBSERVATION 5 – Failure to clean non-food-contact surfaces of equipment as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination. Specifically, the wood fixtures, walls and floors were generally soiled and stained with grime/dirt. The floors also showed an accumulation of manure, mud, straw, wood chips and other debris. Several areas of the ceiling showed black mold-like deposits, particularly near areas showing apparent water damage. Wood shelving, work tables and cheese storage boxes were observed throughout the facility. With accumulated product, grime and some black mold-like deposits. The galvanized pipes and shelves used to store cleaned utensils appeared to have a build-up of grime. Cleaned utensils were also being stored on top of’ the overflow water storage barrel that showed dirt and black deposits on the top and sides.

OBSERVATION 6 – Failure to maintain buildings, fixtures, and physical facilities in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated. Specifically, there are holes, open cracks, water damage and peeling paint/plaster in several ceiling and upper wall locations directly above exposed cheese on storage shelves and above or adjacent to food-contact surfaces. A section of the cheese room ceiling along the south wall is unfinished with exposed joists and insulation above the sink and clean utensil storage.

OBSERVATION 7 - The plant is not constructed in such a manner as to allow floors, walls, and ceilings to be adequately cleaned and kept clean and kept in good repair.  Specifically, there was extensive use of undressed wood throughout the facility to include the window sills/frames, door jambs, storage shelving, cheese screen boxes, ceiling supports, floor areas, steps, work counters and other fixtures. The concrete floors of the cheese processing and the lower aging rooms show exposed aggregate, cracks and broken sections that are pooling water and collecting debris. Ceiling areas in each of the rooms and some walls show evidence of water damage with sagging, boles/cracks, stains and peeling paint and plaster.

OBSERVATION 8 – Suitable outer garments are not worn that protect against contamination of food, food contact surfaces, and food packaging materials.  Specifically, the owner wore manure soiled outer clothing during the production of cheese; handling utensils and direct handling of finished product. Owner was observed kneeling in fresh cow manure, while milking a cow outside, then brushed pants with a bare hand and was later observed standing over a bucket of drained curd in the cheese room with the soiled pants coming into contact with the edge of the bucket.

OBSERVATION 9 – The design and materials of equipment and utensils does not allow proper cleaning. Specifically, glazed ceramic flowerpots (approx.6-8inch), some broken/cracked with missing pieces, were used as cheese molds. A flat wood stick (approx 1/4 x2xl4 inches) was observed on a work table in the cheese room during processing with fresh milk residue. The cheese screen boxes are constructed with undressed one-by pine boards. The welds along the interior bottom seams of the milk chill tank are rough and pitted.

OBSERVATION 10 – Failure to lake necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food, food contact surfaces, and food packaging systems with microorganisms and foreign substances. Specifically, two garden hoses observed being used to transfer water from the overflow water barrel in the cheese room, to livestock water tanks and then stored in the cheese room between uses, near the stove where cheese was cooking. The hose surfaces had accumulated dirt/filth from being dragged across the livestock paddock area. There were several pans and buckets containing dirty water noted on the floor in the NE corner and to the right of the sink in the cheese room.

OBSERVATION 11 – Personal clothing and belongings were stored in an area where food is exposed and equipment or utensils arc washed. Specifically, hats, coats, dirty work gloves and cheese cloths were hung on walls, draped across pipes and the stored milk cooler in the main cheese room. Extensive clutter was observed on the floor, on shelves and counters of the main processing room and the aging rooms in close proximity or intermingled with finished and in-process cheese. These items included: empty jars, pails, papers, tools, personal food items, soiled cheese cloth, animal feeding tube, charcoal lighter fluid, bath towels and a bottle of aspirin.

OBSERVATION 12 – Systems that discharge wastewater or sewage are cross-connected to systems that carry water for food or food manufacturing. Specifically, the overhead water storage tank is plumbed into plastic 50 gallon barrel used to collect overflow that occurs when the tank is fitled. This water from the barrel is later pumped out to supply livestock via a garden hose. A hose connected to a hose bib was submerged in container of water on the floor next to the utensil sink.

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  • Tim Lukens

    Was anybody inspecting this facility?

  • http://www.marlerclark.com/wmarler.htm Bill Marler

    Yes. State of Washington did. Seems clear that they tried to work with her. See the PDFs and my post:
    http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/sally-jackson-raw-milk-cheese-distribution-list-for-e-coli-recall/

  • Larry and Karen Andrew

    Yuuuuuck!!!!

  • Tim Lukens

    WSDA has made good effort to work with small scale operations. The PDF’s show this to be true in this case also.

  • Marymary

    The question I have is: how did this facility get a license to operate in the first place? Did they open without the state knowing it, leaving the state to try to play catch up? Why is the state trying to work with someone who clearly neither knows nor cares about food safety and sanitation? If this facility had inapproprate, non-food grade materials, inadequate and unsafe plumbing, a questionable water supply, and inadequate handwashing facilities, why wasn’t it shut down and forced into compliance? I know from experience that trying to “work with” flagrant offenders does nothing but make them think that regulators are wusses while simultaneously endangering the public.

  • Doc Mudd

    Ever read Mother Earth News? This sort of homespun ‘value-added’ food operation is the norm, at least in my experience. These are the dreamed-of self-sufficient, ‘sustainable small producer’ setups that are to ‘revolutionize’ our agriculture. Sounds like Jackson’s goofy rain barrel plumbing system is right out of “Mother”.
    Aspiring ‘small’ producers commonly rely upon government grant money to get up and running (Sally Jackson received ‘Small and Appropriate Grant’ funding from the Feds, back in the day). These operations tend to be economically and managerially tenuous and typically require various exemptions from oversight and occasional pardons in order to flourish. Even then, it’s difficult – these folks certainly are determined, with not much leeway to be dainty in day-to-day operations.
    ‘Back to the land and stick it to the man’; an appealing sentimental fantasy but a rather gritty truth to live out. Works out best when the paying customers’ romantic assumptions are kept inflated with dreamy fluff and carefully shielded from harsh reality. USDA/FDA attention can really drop a wrench in the marketing cogs.