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FDA Orders Smoked Salmon Held After Listeria Detected

Using its newly expanded authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered the detention of cold-smoked salmon in Maine after inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in equipment and in areas throughout a food-processing and storage facility.

The company, Mill Stream Corp. of Hancock, ME, then agreed to destroy its cold-smoked salmon under FDA supervision, the federal agency said in a news release Tuesday.

The FDA said Listeria was detected at the processing plant during an inspection in December 2011. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the Listeria contamination.

The agency news release explained that FDA may order the detention of food when an investigator has a reason to believe that the food is adulterated or misbranded. Food subject to such a detention order may not be moved, without agency permission, until the agency releases it or the detention order expires. A detention order may remain in place for up to 30 days.

The FDA said it carried out its action against Mill Stream Corp. under the administrative detention authority for food, part of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act.

“FDA will not hesitate to take immediate steps to protect the public’s health,” said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, in the prepared statement. “We will aggressively use our enforcement tools to prevent potentially adulterated food from reaching the public.”

Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a rare and serious illness caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, listeriosis can be fatal, especially in older people, those with compromised immune systems, and in those with certain chronic medical conditions such as cancer. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and serious illness or death in newborn babies, though the mother herself rarely becomes seriously ill.  

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