Last September’s recall of 39,514 pounds of ready-to-eat meal kits for possible Listeria contamination has turned out to be tragic for the 88 people who worked at the Big Boy Food Group’s Warren, MI packaging plant.

Big Boy, in a Dec. 8th Workers Adjustment Notification and Training Act or WARN letter, gave official notice to the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth that the packaging plant is being closed down and the 88 employees are being permanently laid off.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) discovered Listeria contamination in products produced on Aug. 25, 2009.  The recall notice went out on Sept. 1st, and since most of the meal kits were distributed only at the wholesale level almost all the suspected product was recovered.

On Oct. 23, Big Boy suspended operations at the packaging plant and laid off its employees because of a mandatory shutdown by USDA.

In its WARN letter to Michigan, Big Boy said it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to find the source of the Listeria contamination.  It determined the source was from equipment it acquired from one of its customers.  However, Big Boy decided it was not economically feasible to correct the problem and resume operations.

The packaging plant produced both Dinolunch and Lunch Buddies brands.  It distributed the ready-to-eat meal kits in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The packaging plant was a unit of the Warren-based Big Boy Restaurants International, owned by investor Robert Liggett, Jr.  The 455-unit restaurant chain in the U.S. and Canada is known for its chubby boy trademark in red and white checked overalls holding a Big Boy double-decker cheeseburger.

No illnesses were connected to the Big Boy recall.