The Food and Drug Administration has sent Whole Foods Market a letter over "serious violations" at a Massachusetts kitchen, warning the grocer that food prepared there "may have been contaminated with filth," the AP reports. The FDA's Public Health Service describes multiple inspections conducted during February at the North Atlantic kitchen in Everett, which had condensate from ceiling joints dripping onto work surfaces below. Another incident involved an employee spraying sanitizer on work surfaces near a co-worker preparing food, resulting in the "sanitizer being sprayed onto an open colander of salad leafy greens." Other violations included employees not washing hands or changing gloves in between tasks, for example.
The latest letter dated June 8 gives Whole Foods Market 15 days from its receipt to specify what the company has done to correct the violations. Representatives for the Austin, Texas-based retailer say they've addressed and corrected each of the issues listed in the FDA letter. The warning comes as Whole Foods faces growing competition from traditional grocers and big-box retailers that have expanded their organic and natural food sections. Last month Whole Foods reported that sales at established stores—a key metric of a retailer's health—fell 3% during the quarter ended April 10. That marked the third straight quarterly decline. (Last month, the FBI arrested a man who admitted pouring mouse poison on food at Whole Foods stores in Michigan.)