A company that lost its food facility registration almost two years ago after Mexican-style cheeses it produced and distributed were blamed for a 2014 outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes pleaded guilty on Friday to food adulteration in a federal court in Delaware. Since its registration was pulled on March 11, 2014, Delaware’s Roos Foods Inc. has been been shut down as companies without food facility registrations cannot distribute food products. On Friday, the listeriabug_406x250company and its principals, Ana A. Roos and Virginia Mejia, agreed in a consent decree of permanent injunction to plead guilty. In early 2014, Roos Foods distributed several varieties of ready-to-eat cheeses, including ricotta, quest fresco and fresh cheese curd through sales and distribution to wholesale customers in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Both a criminal charge and civil complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) allege that the Roos cheeses distributed in interstate commerce were associated with Listeria outbreak the sickened five adults and three newborns in Maryland and California. Those who became ill said they ate the soft or semi-soft cheeses in the month before they were sickened. Listeria monocytogenes was isolated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from the cheeses manufactured by Roos Foods. An FDA inspection of the Roos Foods facility in Kenton, Del., found the company’s cheese products were adulterated because they were prepared, packed or held in insanitary conditions where they may have become contaminated with filth and rendered injurious to health. FDA found Roos was in violations of numerous monitoring and sanitation regulations, including roof leaks, and surfaces on walls, floors and ceilings that were “uncleanable.” Environmental samples turned up Listeria monocytogenes on a dozen different surfaces inside the plant. “The FDA will not tolerate food companies that fail to provide adequate safeguards and place the public health at risk by producing and shipping contaminated products,” said Howard Sklamberg, the agency’s deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to use the full force of our justice system against those that place profits over the health and safety of American consumers.” Both DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch and U.S. attorneys for the District of Delaware were involved in the bringing the action against Roos Foods. If they want to re-open, Roos Foods and its principals have agreed to a long list of conditions that are baked into the consent degree. These include obtaining support from independent laboratories and experts to, among other things, write a plan for remedial action for dealing with Listeria. Also, if Roos Foods re-opens, it must allow FDA to make unannounced inspections at any time, and bear the costs of those visits.   (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)