The FDA said yesterday that listeria has been found in a now closed food precessing plant in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health found the bacteria in chopped celery, leading to an order to close the plant on October 10th, and recall all food shipped from the plant since January.
A spokesperson for the department said that four people have died from listeriosis after eating celery that had been processed by the SanGar plant. Authorities are investigating a total of 10 cases over the past eight months. CNN reports that the FDA found the bacteria in multiple locations within the plant, and the samples “matches the DNA fingerprint of the clinical cases of listeriosis reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services.”
SanGar says they hired an independent service to test the plant, and that those results came back negative. “The FDA and the state have not turned over to us the documentation supporting their findings,” SanGar attorney Jason Galvan said. “We cannot comment on these most recent findings until the documentation is provided for independent evaluation by our experts.” He also says the entire facility has been cleaned. The company hopes it can go back into production soon.
In addition to the bacteria concern, the inspectors found a number of other health violations, including foods not being stored at the proper temperature, poor drainage, dirt on a food-preparation table, leakage above a food product area, failure to clean utensils and equipment properly, and employee hand washing problems.