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Kellogg gets federal warning after Listeria found in cookie plant

1 commentBy Rory Harrington , 15-Jun-2011
Last updated on 16-Jun-2011 at 13:23 GMT

Kellogg Co has been censured by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after traces of Listeria monocytogenes were found littered throughout its cookie plant in Georgia.

In a warning letter to the food giant, federal authorities outlined a raft of “serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations” following an inspection to the Augusta site in February 2011.

Listeria was found at fifteen separate locations in the Marvin Griffin Road facility, with almost half found on food contact surfaces such as conveyor mesh and belts.

Tests showed the strain of pathogen discovered matched those found at the same plant more than a year previously and revealed flaws in Kellogg’s cleaning methods at the factory, said the FDA

“The presence of a persistent strain of L. monocytogenes in your facility between January 2010 and February 2011 is significant in that it demonstrates that your cleaning and sanitation efforts were inadequate to remove this organism,” said John Gridley FDA district director in Atlanta.

Flies and a black substance

Swarms of flies were also observed around a drain, near to the flour sock of a mixer and the back panel of a mixer, said federal authorities

Kellogg makes a variety of Keebler and Famous Amos cookies at the plant.

Other violations included multiple pipes whose insulation were soaked with condensation and several areas where pooled waste had collected. Pooled condensate was also observed “dripping directly into an open upright mixer bowl”. The pooling of water at the in-feed of one spiral cooker contained “product debris and a black substance”.

Company response

The company said it had voluntarily shut down the plant after the FDA visit and completed a comprehensive cleaning exercise and structural improvements to floors and the roof. A number of other longer-term upgrades to equipment and infrastructure at the site were also underway, added Kellogg.

The cereal and snack company was given fifteen days to respond to the issues raised in the June 7 warning letter, setting out how it planned to rectify the GMP breaches.

Listeria

This is not the first time the FDA has taken Kellogg to task over Listeria contamination at one of its plants.

In January 2010, it raised concerns over detection of the bacteria at its Eggo Waffle plant, also in Georgia.

The company had been forced to halt production in September 2009 after officials from the Georgia Department of Agriculture had detected Listeria at the site.

In 2010, Kellogg recalled 28 million packets of breakfast cereal after elevated levels of a chemical in the liner caused off-flavours and smells in a range of products that had caused vomiting and nausea in some consumers.

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1 comment (Comments are now closed)

Not a Surprise on Listeria Findings

With the exception of Infant Formula, who are MADE by LAW to test finished products as well as product contact surfaces for micro-organisms, most food plants will NOT test finished product OR product contact/product path surfaces voluntarily because, as a QA Manager once told me, "Be careful what you ask for, because once you are aware of an issue you are obligated to fix it." And that costs unplanned funds and resources. FDA should mandate finished product microbiological testing as well as product path equipment micro testing; otherwise, it will continue to be "business as usual" as companies strive to meet stockholder share returns over consumer safety.

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Posted by Robert Long
16 June 2011 | 14h19

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