FDA warns Gilchrist & Soames after toiletry recalls

March 31, 2016

Plainfield-based manufacturer Gilchrist & Soames Inc., which makes luxury toiletry products for the hotel industry, is under fire from the Food and Drug Administration to clean up operations at its local plant.

According to the FDA, Gilchrist & Soames conducted voluntary recalls of more than 2 million products that were potentially contaminated with harmful bacteria in 2015.

This month, the FDA asked the company for proof of corrective actions and recommended the manufacturer “develop a remediation plan to correct and prevent future product contamination and subsequently provide for the safe distribution of your products.”

Gilchrist & Soames has since recalled more of its shower gels and shampoos after microbial contamination was found.

The recall came after the FDA found "poisonous or deleterious substances" in the two types of shampoo and two shower gels. The products affected are Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Conditioning Shampoo, Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Shower Gel, Pelican Hill Shower Gel and Essential Elements Shampoo.

According to the FDA, a pathogen found in the bath products is highly resistant to antibacterial agents and can cause severe and life-threatening infections. Other pathogens found in the products can increase risk of infection, especially for people with compromised immune systems.

An inspection of the 250,000-square-foot Plainfield plant in September and October also found insanitary practices that the FDA said could lead to contaminated products.

In a written statement, Gilchrist & Soames said it “has introduced new procedures, including increased testing of product, enhanced sanitation and new associate training."

The company also temporarily closed parts of the plant for cleaning.

"We take seriously the issues raised by the FDA and will continue to work closely with the agency to demonstrate that we have acted quickly and thoroughly to address its concerns," the statement said.

Guest Supply, a subsidiary of food-distribution giant Sysco Corp., purchased Gilchrist & Soames in late 2015. The company, which had about 135 employees at the time of the acquisition, sells about $60 million in products annually.

Guest Supply acquired the company from San Francisco-based private equity firm Swander Pace Capital. Swander bought the toiletry maker in 2007 for $51 million from a firm headed by local businessman Al Hubbard.

Gilchrist & Soames was founded by brothers Tony and Michael Karger in 1975 in England. Potter & Moore bought it from the brothers in 1984. Indianapolis-based E&A Industries, led by Hubbard, acquired the company and moved North American operations to Indianapolis in 1998.

Guest Supply provides products for nearly 25,000 hotels, resorts and spas in more than 100 countries.



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