The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the food processing license of Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food, a producer of traditional Korean rice cakes, after several inspections found on-going sanitation problems at the Pierce County business.

In addition to revoking the company’s license to process food, WSDA assessed a cumulative civil penalty of $11,900 against the company and required all products at the facility in Parkland to be destroyed. Notices about the license revocation have been sent to all known retail outlets and restaurants that have purchased or carry Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food products.

As a result of these actions, the company cannot process any food at this location. Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food has 10 days to appeal and request the agency reconsider the order, but it cannot operate as a food processing operation during that appeal period.

This enforcement action follows several visits to Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food during which WSDA inspectors found problems with unsanitary conditions, poor sanitation practices by employees, and a general failure to protect food products from contamination. During the most recent visit, inspectors noted several problems that were observed during earlier inspections had not been addressed.

There are approximately 1,500 licensed food processors in Washington. WSDA’s Food Safety & Consumer Services Division works with these businesses to guide them in correcting violations of the state food production and handling requirements. When education efforts fail to improve conditions, WSDA has the authority to suspend or revoke licenses and assess civil penalties.

In this case, WSDA had twice issued orders to suspend Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food’s processing license. Both times, the company signed settlement agreements in which they promised to meet food processing requirements but failed to do so. The most recent agreement was in April 2012.

The continued violations of food processing standards and the failure to fully pay earlier fines led to the decision to revoke Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food’s food processing license.