A Virginia soybean business has been ordered to suspend operations after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accused the company of multiple violations of federal food safety laws and regulations.

Under a consent decree of permanent injunction, Henry’s Farm Inc. is prohibited from receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packing, holding and distributing ready-to-eat soybean and mung-bean sprouts.

The U.S. Department of Justice sought the consent decree on behalf of the FDA, alleging that the company and its owner have a history of processing food products under insanitary conditions.

Working with state authorities in Virginia, the FDA collected an extensive amount of environmental, in-process and finished sprout product samples from Henry’s Farm, several of which tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono). Investigators also documented insanitary conditions at the facility, including a persistent rodent infestation and dirty food processing equipment.

Under the consent decree, the company cannot process or distribute food until it demonstrates that its facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination in the food that it processes, prepares, stores and handles.

Among other things, the company must retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze samples for the presence of L. mono, retain an independent sanitation expert, and develop a program to control L. mono and to eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility.

“Insanitary conditions at food processing facilities can pose well-known risks to consumers, but such risks can be effectively mitigated if companies handling food take proper precautions,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“It’s the FDA’s responsibility to protect consumers from potentially harmful food entering the food supply,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a company continues to produce food that presents a risk for consumers, the FDA will take whatever steps necessary to protect public health.”