Less than a year after the FDA made some unsavory accusations about a Whole Foods prep kitchen, the company just announced it will shut down three of its regional food prep facilities.
Now look, I am not faulting Whole Foods for their decision. Back in June, when the FDA publically published a warning letter to the upmarket grocery chain detailing problems with a facility in Massachusetts, it included a number of very off-putting violations: things like “cutting chives and beets on a work surface directly underneath a leaking condensate drainage pipe” and “sanitizer being sprayed onto an open colander of salad leafy greens.” Obviously, this kind of report doesn’t come off too well when it hits the press, even though at the time a Whole Foods spokesman said, “[We've] worked with [the FDA] to address every issue brought to our attention.”
Well, addressed or not, Whole Foods has decided it’s time to shut down the Everett, Massachusetts, kitchen, as well as two other kitchens in Landover, Maryland, and Atlanta, Georgia. In a statement, the company referred to the decision as “part of our ongoing plan to streamline operations.” However, it’s worth noting that, according to the Austin American-Statesman, these three regional kitchens were the last remaining ones that the brand operated. While the Whole Foods stressed that it still makes some food on-site, the closing of the kitchens means the grocery is now officially out of the regional offsite food prep game. As a result, this work will now be entirely done by outside vendors. Though this move could certainly be seen as streamlining, it also offers another potential benefit: a degree of separation. You got too much to worry about, Whole Foods. Take a load off.
The approximately 500 people who work in these facilities were given 60 days’ notice of the closure. Though Whole Foods says they could keep their jobs: “We are working closely with all affected team members and expect that most will find new positions within the company or with our suppliers.”