Personal Injury

Listeria Threat Persists at NYC Food Processing Facility, Feds Say

food production workers Wikimedia commons 338x210 Listeria Threat Persists at NYC Food Processing Facility, Feds SayIn an effort to eliminate the threat of Listeria monocytogenes and other serious foodborne pathogens from a Staten Island food manufacturing and distribution facility, a federal court in Brooklyn has entered a permanent injunction against the affiliated companies and their owners.

The court action stems from a complaint filed in May by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against Euroline Foods LLC and Royal Seafood Baza Inc. Together, the companies make and distribute ready-to-eat fish products, vegetable salads, and cheese in a Staten Island plant that federal authorities said is chronically unsanitary.

The court action sought to bar Euroline, Royal Seafood, and their owners and operators from producing or distributing any food products because they failed to comply with federal food safety regulations or take remedial measures to eliminate the threat of foodborne illnesses.

FDA inspections have repeatedly found the presence of Listeria, a highly resilient bacteria that can cause listeriosis and other serious illnesses, as well as Clostridium botulinum and scombrotoxin, both of which are serious health hazards.

To settle the litigation, the defendants agreed to deal only with food that remains enclosed in pre-packed containers at their facility. If they intend to resume preparing and processing food again, the defendants are required to notify the FDA in writing at least 90 days beforehand, comply with specific remedial measures prescribed by the court, and open their doors to FDA inspectors.

The injunction also introduces safeguards to protect the public should the defendants move their food processing operations to another facility in the future, the Justice Department said.

“In response to the government’s lawsuit, the defendants have ceased their at-risk processing operations and destroyed affected food preparation equipment,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “Going forward, they are permanently barred by the consent decree from processing any foods, other than prepackaged foods that will remain in their original containers, at their Staten Island facility, and any foods that might present a Listeria monocytogenes hazard at any other facility until they establish that they can comply with all applicable laws and regulations.”

Listeria is a highly resilient bacteria that can cause listeriosis and other serious illnesses. Once it appears in a food processing plant, the pathogen can become a huge problem because it thrives in cold, moist, dark environments. That’s why so many Listeria outbreaks are linked to foods such as milk, cheese and other dairy products, and deli meats – the types of food that Euroline and Royal Seafood prepare in their Staten Island facility.

While healthy individuals exposed to Listeria usually suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, the bacteria can cause fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.