Attention Vegans, Vegetarians, and the Lactose-Intolerant: FDA Blasts Lifesoy for Unsanitary Manufacturing Processes

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it has ordered Lifesoy Inc. of San Diego to halt production of its ready-to-eat soy products until it complies with federal sanitary rules. According to the FDA, Lifesoy is accused of preparing, packing, and holding articles of food under unsanitary conditions.

Lifesoy makes sweetened and unsweetened soy milk, fried tofu, fresh tofu, soybean pudding, and other soy-based products for human consumption. FDA officials reported on Monday that the company entered into a U.S. District Court consent decree that bars the company from producing and distributing any more soy products until it complies with federal laws regarding sanitary practices.

Two years ago, the soy product manufacturer received a warning letter from the FDA concerning its unsanitary conditions and poor manufacturing processes that the Administration discovered during an inspection of the company’s food processing facility. Despite the warning, the company failed to address the FDA’s concerns sufficiently. Consequently, a federal judge issued Lifesoy the consent decree on June 2, 2010.

Lifesoy and it’s owner, Long H. Lai, face allegations that they failed to store food in a manner to protect it from spoiling. Furthermore, the company allegedly failed to safeguard foods from contaminants including dirty water, pests, and unclean workers. Specifically, FDA officials noticed that sweetened soy milk, unsweetened soy milk, fried tofu, and fresh tofu pudding were not kept refrigerated either in-house or in-transit. Additionally, the officials also witnessed a worker splashing dirty water into a vat of product during their inspection. Workers at the plant were also witnessed consuming food in processing areas and failed to wash their hands before handling the products.

The consent decree requires Lifesoy to retain a qualified sanitation expert to develop and implement a written sanitation program to bring the company into compliance with federal food laws. The FDA must approve Lifesoy’s sanitation program and re-inspect the facility before the company can restart its operations.