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FDA finds Listeria at SanGar Fresh Cut Produce

by Joan Murphy | November 04, 2010
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food & Drug Administration found Listeria in processed celery and in multiple locations at a San Antonio, TX, plant when it inspected SanGar Fresh Cut Produce, the firm being investigated for an outbreak that has resulted in four deaths.

The plant was shuttered Oct. 20 by the Texas Department of State Health Services and ordered to recall all products shipped since January after Texas officials found the outbreak strain in celery and the company reportedly refused to conduct a recall. The state is investigating 10 Listeria cases.

In a Nov. 3 statement, the FDA said it tested processed finished product and environmental samples during an Oct. 14-15 inspection. "The results indicate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness, in processed celery and in multiple locations in the plant environment, including on food contact surfaces. The Listeria identified in FDA samples matches the DNA fingerprint of the clinical cases of Listeriosis reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services."

The agency also released the related 483 form, which listed 19 observations FDA inspectors noted as possible violations during a seven-day inspection. “FDA continues to work closely with Texas food-safety officials to review corrective actions being taken by the company to eliminate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes at its facility,” the agency's statement said.