The FDA reported that a cheese manufacturer in Kenton, Delaware, has pleaded guilty to violating federal food and drugs laws during a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that sickened eight people in 2013.
“The FDA will not tolerate food companies that fail to provide adequate safeguards and place the public health at risk by producing and shipping contaminated products,” Howard Sklamberg, deputy commissioner for the FDA’s Global Regulatory Operations and Policy, said in a press release. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to use the full force of our justice system against those that place profits over the health and safety of American consumers.”
The company, Roos Foods, produced ready-to-eat cheeses such as ricotta, queso fresco and fresh cheese curd. The products were distributed in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The company and its co-owners Ana A. Roos and Virginia Mejia entered into a civil agreement that bans the company and individuals from producing and distributing food without confirmation from the FDA that their operations adhere to federal laws and food safety regulations.
The FDA barred Roos Foods from interstate commerce in March 2014 after citing the company for sanitation issues and finding L. monocytogenes contamination in multiple locations of the facility. Whole-genome sequencing revealed the strains were similar to those isolated from ill consumers. The outbreak was responsible for seven hospitalizations, according to the FDA.
“We must work to ensure that the food we buy is free from dangerous bacteria and is safe to eat,” Benjamin C. Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, said in the release.