On March 12, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down the plant of cheese manufacturer, Roos Foods, after an investigation linked a listeria outbreak to the manufacturer’s Mexican cheeses.
In February, the FDA recalled various types of Mexican cheeses from the Kenton, Delaware-based plant after the agency determined that the cheeses may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in the elderly, young children, and others with weakened immune systems.
Healthy individuals infected with listeria could suffer short-term symptoms, including fevers, headaches, nausea, stiffness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The bacteria may cause miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women.
The FDA recalled the cheese items after health inspectors found the bacteria in a sample of Cuajada en Terron, a type of fresh cheese curd, on sale in unlabeled, clear plastic bags at a Mega Mart in Manassas, Virginia.
The FDA found that the bacteria-infected products were distributed at retail stores in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
Further investigation revealed that at least eight people living in California or Maryland came down with listeria, and one of the individuals died after eating the manufacturer’s cheese. All of the illnesses were diagnosed between August 1, 2013 and November 27, 2013.
When investigating the Roos Foods plant, investigators found that the roof of the plant leaked so badly that water poured onto cheese-processing equipment and cheese-storage tanks.
The agency also discovered standing water near cheese vats, food residue found on already-cleaned equipment, deteriorated equipment, and milk storage tanks that were not properly capped to prevent contamination.
The suspension of Roos Foods prevents the manufacturer from distributing any food products. The FDA will lift the suspension only if it determines that the plant’s conditions will no longer reasonably lead to death or serious adverse health effects to individuals.
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