The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has shut down production at a Delaware cheese factory linked to a deadly listeria outbreak after an inspection revealed numerous unsanitary conditions that the agency said created a “reasonable probability” that cheese produced there could cause “serious adverse health consequences or death to humans.”
Roos Foods Inc., recalled 16 varieties of Hispanic-style cheeses last month after reports of one death in California and seven illnesses in Maryland from listeria infections. Those sickened included mothers and newborn babies. The recall involved all of Roos Foods’ Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima and Anita brands, which were distributed to retail stores in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Listeria is a bacterial infection that can cause symptoms such as high fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Young children, elderly persons, and those with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to the infection. It is especially dangerous to pregnant women because it can spread to the fetus and cause miscarriages and stillbirths.
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspected Roos Foods’ Kenton, Del., plant following the outbreak and found numerous sanitary violations including a large roof leak that dumped water into the plant’s cheese processing room, standing water on the floor of the cheese curd processing room, rusted ceiling and supports that resisted sanitization, food residue on equipment after cleaning, and milk storage tanks and transfer piping that were left uncapped and prone to contaminants.
The agency said it would reinstate Roos Foods’ registration and allow production to be resumed after it determines that cheese produced at the plant no longer poses a health risk to humans.