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Maker of Ruth’s Salads Warned About Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination by FDA

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-12-07  Views: 4
Core Tip: B&H Foods, the maker of Ruth’s Salad, was warned about Listeria monocytogenes contamination in their facility by the FDA in November 2017.
B&H Foods, the maker of Ruth’s Salad, was warned about Listeria monocytogenes contamination in their facility by the FDA in November 2017. B&H Foods recalled Ruth’s Pimento Spreads in February of this year for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, and expanded that recall later. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the consumption of these products.

The warning letter is long and details many violations of the current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for foods. First, during an FDA inspection in May 2017, environmental swabs were taken. Lab analysis found they contained Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which made the products prepared in that facility adulterated.

Two strains of Listeria bacteria were found. One was found in the Chester, South Carolina facility in May 2012, August 2013, and April 2015. It was also found in isolates obtained from USDA samples of chicken and ham salad taken from the company’s Charlotte, North Carolina facility, and in environmental swabs collected from the North Carolina facility in 2015. That means the pathogenic bacteria has established and maintained a presence and that this Listeria monocytogenes contamination may have been occurring for years.

The second strain of Listeria bacteria was identical to the pathogen found in a USDA sample of the company’s pimento spread, the state of North Carolina’s 2017 sample of pimento cheese, and the FDA’s environmental swabs taken from the South Carolina facility in May 2012, August 2013, and April 2015. That strain has also maintained a presence in the South Carolina facility from 2012 to 2017. An identical strain was found in the Charlotte, North Carolina processing environment.

This all means that according to the FDA release, “they demonstrate your cleaning and sanitation practices are inadequate to effectively control pathogens in [the] facility to prevent contamination of food. Furthermore, L. monocytogenes found in the environment of your facility increases the risk of your finished product becoming contaminated. Once established in a production area, personnel or equipment can facilitate the pathogen’s movement and contamination of food-contact surfaces and finished product.”

Good Manufacturing Practices violations were numerous. They included sprays and hoses splashing water onto food contact surfaces, including tables while the pimento spread was being made, soiled garments of employees coming into direct contact with raw ingredients and the finished product, and employees storing food contact equipment on towels and tables, then using them to process finished product without first washing them.

Food contact surfaces were not maintained so they could be properly cleaned and sanitized. Two pallets of canned pimentos and one pallet of canned jalapeños were stored in the maintenance shop; the pallet of jalapeños had opened motor oil containers and lubricants on top of it. The front pallet of pimento had a viscous black liquid spilled on the middle cans. And chemical drums were taking onto open boxes of finished product containers.

Finally, employees did not use gloves, did not wash their hands thoroughly, and the hand washing station did not have hand towels. Employees were handling non-food contact equipment, including a trash can, and did not wash their hands. They then performed work including their bare hands touching the interior of finished product containers.

The company has fifteen days to respond to these issues and indicate corrective action.

 
keywords: Salads
 
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