An ongoing threat of Listeria monocytogenes and other harmful pathogenic bacteria inside a Staten Island, New York food processing facility has prompted the U.S. government to file a complaint against two companies, seeking to prevent them from manufacturing and distributing adulterated food.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against Euroline Foods and Royal Seafood Baza, which together produce and distribute ready-to-eat fish products, vegetable salads, and cheese.
Federal authorities say the food is being prepared in a chronically unsanitary Staten Island facility where FDA inspections have repeatedly found the presence of Listeria, a highly resilient bacteria that can cause listeriosis and other serious illnesses.
Foodborne Listeria occasionally causes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals usually suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
According to the Justice Department, the FDA inspected the Staten Island facilities three times between March 2015 and December 2016 with a follow-up investigation in November 2017. Each time, FDA officials found violations of the Good Manufacturing Practices requirements and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.
The FDA issued its first warning letter to Royal Seafood in 2015, but inspections the following year found listeria contamination throughout the facility.
“Food processors and distributors must identify and eliminate food safety hazards and develop meaningful plans for preventing such hazards in order to protect consumers,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York. “Those who fail to do so must come into compliance or be shut down.”
The government’s complaint seeks a court order to permanently bar the defendants from violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and to prevent them from manufacturing or distributing food unless they comply with specific remedial measures, including implementing a sanitation program to eliminate Listeria and other pathogens from their facility.