Texas plant shut down following link to Listeria
by Joan Murphy | October 20, 2010
Sangar Fresh Cut Produce in San Antonio, TX, was shut down Oct. 20 after
Texas authorities tied the processor to a listeriosis outbreak that has resulted
in five deaths.
Six of 10 cases of listeria poisoning have been traced to chopped celery from
the Sangar plant, the Texas Department of State Health Services in an Oct. 20
statement. Some 10 cases have been reported to state authorities over the
last eight months, DSHS said.
The company, which sells to restaurants and institutional customers, was
ordered to recall all products shipped from the plant since January. The
recalled products - primarily fresh-cut produce in sealed packages – were not
believed to be sold in grocery stores, DSHS said.
Texas authorities reported that Listeria monocytogenes was found in chopped
celery at the plant during its investigation.
"DSHS inspectors also found sanitation issues at the plant and believe the
Listeria found in the chopped celery may have contaminated other food
produced there," DSHS said in the statement. “The department found a
condensation leak above a food product area, soil on a preparation table and
hand washing issues.”
But Kenneth Sanquist, president of Sangar, released a statement sayng that
the state's claim that some of the produce fails to meet health standards
contradicts independent tests conducted on the same products.
Mr. Sanquist, who could not be reached for comment, was quoted in an
August local news segment pushing San Antonio to require tougher food-
safety standards for fresh-cut processors.
The 10-year-old company says on its web site that “food safety is our top
priority,” and that Primus Labs, Quanta Labs, U.S. government and Texas
health officials conduct regular inspections. The company sells fresh-cut
salad mixes, fruits and vegetables to the San Antonio area that are distributed
in the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma.
DSHS is contacting distributors, restaurants and institutions believed to have
received the recalled products to ensure they are taking appropriate action to