FDA Shuts Down Cheese Plant over Deadly Outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted operations at a Delaware cheese plant after an outbreak of listeria linked to the company’s cheese killed one person and sickened many others.

This is only the second time the FDA has used its authority to shut down a plant after it gained that authority in a 2011 safety food safety law. Agency inspectors found unsanitary conditions at Roos Foods in Kenton, Delaware, including a badly leaking roof, rusting and deteriorating equipment and food residue on equipment, even after it had been cleaned.

The FDA said the agency took the action because food manufactured by the company could cause “serious adverse health consequences or death to humans.” Listeria was found in some of Roos Foods’ products and linked directly to the outbreak.

Roos Foods of Kenton, Del., makes cheeses under brand names: Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina and La Purisima Crema Nica.

In February, health officials announced the company was recalling some varieties of cheeses after they were linked to eight illnesses in newborns and pregnant women, including seven in Maryland and one death in California. All illnesses were diagnosed between August 1, 2013 and November 27, 2013, and all patients were of Hispanic descent.

Health officials investigated the facility from February 18 to March 4 and found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in samples of cheese matched to those isolated in patients sickened from the outbreak through whole-genome sequencing.

On March 11, the FDA decided to suspend the food facility registration of Roos Foods in response to the outbreak and after finding unsanitary conditions at the facility.

The products were distributed in Delaware, Maryland, N.J., N.Y., Virginia and the District of Columbia, though the death connected to the outbreak was in California. All the other illnesses were in Maryland. Three of the sickened were newborns; and it is unclear if the death was one of the newborns.

Listeria is a foodborne illness that is especially dangerous to pregnant women, newborn babies, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Listeria bacteria causes an infection known as listerosis. Rarely does it cause serious illness in healthy people and can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.

Consumers are urged not to eat any of the recalled cheese products and discard any remaining cheese. It is reported that Listeria bacteria can grow at room temperatures, so the longer the ready-to-eat refrigerated foods are in the refrigerator, them more chance Listeria has to grow. If you had any of the recalled cheese in your refrigerator, it is highly suggested to thoroughly clean your refrigerator and any utensils used with a solution of one tablespoon chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.

For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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