Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Listeria Found Inside Vegan Food Plant

A second food manufacturer — this one a small California company — received a warning letter earlier this month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Listeria  monocytogenes on food contact surfaces inside the plant.

Gloria’s Pantry in Soquel, CA makes “grab and go” vegetarian and vegan foods sold in grocery store dairy cases. It underwent an FDA inspection from last Jan. 13 through Feb. 2. Inspectors say lab tests returned positive samples for Listeria on food contact surfaces, including a bowl used to hold lettuce.

In a June 3 warning letter released this week, FDA said a cracked plastic bowl repaired with tape was found to be contaminated with L. monocytogenes, a known pathogenic microorganism.

Gloria’s product line includes flour tortilla sambosas and burritos, wraps and spring rolls.  The products are sold through Lite for Life, Whole Food Markets, Piazzas Fine Foods, Roberts Market, Country Sun Natural, New Leaf Markets, Food Bin, Staff of Life, Shoppers Corner, Aptos Natural, and Cornacopia Market.

It was the second report this week of Listeria contamination found inside a food manufacturing facility. The first was for a much larger Kellogg Company bakery in Augusta, GA.

At Gloria’s Pantry, FDA inspectors said they found a packing table, floors, and walls in the the processing area encrusted with food particles and other debris and cobwebs were evident in overhead skylights.

Also, sambosa filling was being cooled, uncovered, next to an open rollup door that led to an outside driveway.

Gloria’s Pantry responded to the FDA-483 inspection report on April 20 and promised that its food handlers and supervisors will receive better training in food-safety training.

FDA said the company failed to provide assurance that a “competent supervisory person” will be assigned to verify compliance and implement the needed corrections.  It also said the company needs to document its compliance actions.

“L. monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacterium that is widespread in the environment. It can proliferate in food processing facilities without proper controls, where it may contaminate food, ” FDA said.  “Consuming these contaminated foods can lead to a severe, sometimes life-threatening illness called listeriosis, an atypical foodborne illness of major public health concern due to the severity of the disease, its high case-fatality rate, long incubation, and predilection for individuals with underlying conditions.”

”It is essential to identify the areas of your facility where L monocytogenes is able to grow and survive (niche areas) and to take such corrective actions as necessary to control the organism. Adequate sanitation controls should include effective environmental monitoring programs designed to identify and eliminate and/or control pathogens such as L monocytogenes in and on surfaces and areas in the facility where contamination could result in food product contamination,” it added.

Gloria’s website says its kitchen “is licensed by FDA, State of California and Santa Cruz county.” FDA asked the company to respond within 15 working days with information on the actions it is taking to correct violations.

© Food Safety News