FDA Warns Kellogg of Listeria in Eggo Waffles

Yesterday, U.S. food safety regulators went public with a warning letter sent last month to Kellogg Company, maker of Eggo waffles, reported Reuters. Apparently, Kellogg did not sufficiently address food safety violation issues at its frozen food plant in Atlanta, Georgia.

In October 2009, we wrote that that the breakfast food giant recalled some of its popular Eggo waffles. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) said, at the time, that the recall was implemented after <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/listeria">Listeria monocytogenes was discovered by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in some buttermilk Eggo waffles that were manufactured at Kellogg’s Atlanta plant.

Reuters pointed out that in October, the inspection also revealed some sanitation violations that included “improper handling of trash and food, and insufficiently sanitized equipment,” citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Listeria bacteria were discovered in Eggo Buttermilk Waffles on August 31, said Reuters. The FDA letter was dated January 27, 2010.

According to the letter, the plant had “significant deviations” said the FDA, from established manufacturing practices that should be in place for food manufacturers, and that Kellogg has not yet addressed those violations, reported Reuters. But, Kellogg said yesterday that it completely addressed the violations and that it would be filing its response letter soon, added Reuters.

According to the agency, Kellogg did list some of its planned corrective actions in a November 18 response; however, more was needed, said Reuters.

When it looked at the Atlanta plant, inspectors from the FDA discovered the Listeria pathogen on five swabs it had taken, with one of the swabs coming from the wheels of a forklift used at the site, said Reuters. Because of this, the agency said that it is “essential” that Kellogg identify every area in its plant in which the pathogen can grow and to also take all required action to ensure control of the pathogen, explained Reuters, noting that the FDA suggested that Kellogg initiate a pathogen-monitoring program.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. In pregnant women, Listeria can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of all Listeria cases occurring during pregnancy. Listeria is responsible for an estimated 2,500 illnesses in the United States annually, with about 200 in every 1,000 cases resulting in death. Listeria infection can take days, even weeks, to develop and can present in anything from a mild flu-like illness to meningitis and septicemia.

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