The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that it is seeking a permanent injunction against NY Gourmet Salads, Inc., on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

The Brooklyn, NY-based processor of ready-to-eat deli salads, seafood salads, and cream cheeses and the company president, Leonard F. Spada, were charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on July 30.  The defendants are said to have sold food that was prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions and may have become contaminated with filth or may have been rendered injurious to health, in interstate commerce.

In a press release, FDA stated:  “FDA inspections have documented insanitary conditions at NY Gourmet’s facility and a failure to follow applicable FDA regulations concerning the production of food and seafood products. Although the company promised to address and correct deficiencies following inspections in 2006, 2007, and 2009, the FDA’s most recent inspection in March 2010 confirmed that the company continued to operate without adequate controls.”

FDa testing has found Listeria monocytogenes in NY Gourmet’s manufacturing facility as well as in food samples dating back to 2009.

The complaint notes that recent FDA testing has found Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) throughout the defendants’ facility and in a sample of finished product.

“The continued presence of [Listiera monocytogenes] in a food processing facility is a particularly significant public health risk,” said Michael A. Chappell, acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “In this case, the L. mono was not only found in the facility, but later turned up in a sample of the firm’s food. We will not allow food producers to put consumers at risk by repeatedly breaking promises to clean up their facilities.”

A person with listeriosis–the illness caused by the ingestion of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria–may develop fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea.  If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. In immune-deficient individuals, Listeria can invade the central nervous system, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). Infected pregnant women ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.