FDA And Zoka Coffee In Public Scat Spat

Very clean.

Jeff Babcock and Seattle’s historic Zoka Coffee Roasters have been dealing with a real PR nightmare after seeing a slew of newspapers, blogs and local TV Seattle affiliates go live with this: an FDA warning letter directed to Zoka about unsanitary conditions in its roast works, which specifically cites the presence of insect larvae in Zoka’s jute bags and a numerically numbing amount of rat poop (1500 turds or so) scattered throughout the roastery. The FDA chose to publish the letter earlier this month, based on conditions that were originally observed back in April.

Nearly five months after the offending inspection, Zoka founder Jeff Babcock if fighting back against the negative PR by assuring the public that conditions have been brought up to code. The recent FDA’s letter seems to disagree, stating: “Your response did not specifically address what, if any, corrective actions you have taken to clean the rodent excreta pellets that were observed in your facility and to sanitize the areas where the pellets were found. Nor did you provide documentation of other corrective actions.” Business between the FDA and Zoka has taken a dramatic turn, first with the publishing of the FDA’s letter, and with Jeff Babcock’s detailed response:

Several media outlets have reported that we have a mouse issue. We want you to know we do not. We had an issue that has been remedied, and it was an anomaly. This is the first time we have had an incident of this nature. We have always scored high on our inspections by the Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA). And, five months after the incident, we received 93 out of 100 from the WSDA on a follow-up inspection.

Clean facilities and strong business practices are what we pride ourselves on. That is how we have built our business over the past 15 years. We also believe in clear and concise communication.

Babcock also included a link to a Facebook photo album of the clean roastery and has invited anyone to come down to the roast works and see for themselves.

The Consumerist has sent the letter from Babcock to the FDA and is awaiting an official response. The court of public opinion may be another matter.

Comments

  1. says

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  2. says

    I wonder if a coffee shop that doesn’t even know what neighborhood it is in (Wallingford, not Greenlake), can be counted on to know what lives at its roasting plant.

  3. Julia says

    I worked in the roastery at the time of the bad write-up and we regularly saw mice. We even unearthed a nest with babies during spring cleaning. It wouldn’t surprise me that there were also bugs. The company makes poor decisions that negatively affect the quality of its product and the zoka brand. Jeff is an amazing guy who knows a ton about coffee and the cafe staff is top notch and enthusiastic but the suits in the offices are ruining what would be a great company.

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