Sun Valley Juice Company of Ketchum, ID has been ordered by the FDA to cease all operations, including receiving, processing, preparing, packing, holding, and distributing juice until the agency determines that the company is in compliance with laws and regulations applicable to producing food that is safe. The action came despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration had made repeated attempts to help the company comply with a court ordered consent decree, between the FDA and Sun Valley Juice Company signed by a federal judge back in 2006, which called for the company agreed to establish and implement a hazard prevention plan in light of the fact that it does not pasteurize its products leaving them vulnerable to bacteria such as E.coli. However, FDA investigators have repeatedly found the company out of compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the terms of the consent decree.
“When a company repeatedly disobeys food safety laws and regulations, and does not stick to a court-ordered agreement designed to protect public health, the FDA must use the full power of the courts to protect consumers,” stated the agency’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs Melinda K. Plaisrier.
She did note, however, that once the FDA finds that Sun Valley Juice Company has finally implemented the necessary measures demanded by the appropriate laws and regulations it will; be permitted to resume operations in the future.
While most strains of E. coli strains do not cause disease, virulent strains can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and neonatal meningitis. It can also be characterized by severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that typically turns bloody within 24 hours, and sometimes fever. In rarer cases, virulent strains are also responsible for tissue death in the bowels and perforation without progressing to hemolytic-uremic syndrome,peritonitis, mastitis, septicemia, and Gram-negative pneumonia.
One strain known as E.coli #0157:H7, produces a toxin called the Shiga toxin, which causes premature destruction of the red blood cells which then clog the kidneys, causing hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). This in turn causes strokes due to small clots of blood which lodge in capillaries in the brain, and can also lead to edema around the lungs and legs and arms, which can impede heart function.
It should be noted that Shinga toxin is the same strain responsible for sickening 22 people in Oregon and Washington since October 14 weekend after it was traced to several Chipolte restaurants there. Affected counties include Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon (both in suburban Portland), as well as Clark County, (which contains Vancouver, WA) , as well as King County, Skagit County and Cowlitz County. Although about 1/3 of the victims have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported.
About a 1/3 of the victims have been hospitalized, he said. No one has died from the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, the most common in food-borne outbreaks. However, health officials in both states want people who have eaten at a Chipotle between Oct. 14-Oct. 23 and become ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea to see their doctors right away.