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SanGar Court Date Cancelled, Closure Order Stands

A court date between SanGar Fresh Cut Produce and the Texas Department of State Health Services scheduled for today has been cancelled.

“It means the closure order stands,” says Carrie Williams, the department’s press officer.

The State of Texas closed the SanGar produce processing plant in San Antonio on Oct. 20 and State Health Services ordered a recall of all produce from the facility since Jan. 1, 2010.

Fresh-cut celery from the SanGar plant, which deals in a variety of fruit and vegetables, was linked to several Listeria infections, including four deaths that were investigated by State Health Services. 

Both the State of Texas and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found Listeria contamination inside the produce processing facility.

The hearing originally scheduled before an administrative law judge today would have provided SanGar the opportunity to present arguments on why it should be permitted to re-open.  After it was ordered closed, SanGar brought in a third-party auditor to collect its own evidence.

SanGar attorney Jason Galvan could not be reached for comment.

In its ongoing investigation of a cluster of at least 10 Listeria cases in Bexar, Travis, and Hidalgo counties, SanGar has been the only processor targeted by Texas officials.  No growers are involved.

Williams says the closure order remains in effect, and it is up to SanGar to go through the process that might persuade state health officials to allow the produce processor to reopen. No further administrative court action has been scheduled.

Before FDA lab results confirmed the contamination originally found by the State of Texas, SanGar said it wanted to reopen.  Samples of chopped celery from SanGar tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The products involved in the SanGar recall were fresh-cut produce in sealed packages distributed primarily to institutions such as schools, hospitals, restaurants through food-service channels.

The closure order prohibits SanGar from reopening without the consent of State Health Services.

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