FDA acts to close cheese factory

July 7, 2009 9:17:14 PM PDT
The Food and Drug Administration is trying shut down a manufacturer in Brooklyn that it says produced cheese contaminated with Listeria. The Department of Justice, on behalf of the FDA, filed an injunction to stop operatoons at Peregrina Cheese.

The FDA says the company has a history of operating under insanitary conditions and has been repeatedly warned to clean up its act.

Peregrina Cheese says it hasn't had a problem at their plant in Williamsburg since 2004.

The FDA alleges a host of issues at the Brooklyn facility, including:

filthy conditions
standing water in food processing equipment
workers inappropriately dressed
dead rodent inside the plant.

"This company has consistently failed to make corrections to improve the insanitary conditions under which it processes cheese products, despite frequent warnings to do so," said Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

The agency is asking for a court order to close the factory after inspectors say a batch Peregrina Queso Fresco, a popular Mexican cheese, tested positive for Listeria bacteria which can be deadly. The cheese was recalled last March.

Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No one has become ill from eating Peregrina cheese, officials said.

The cheese was recalled from stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan as well as Scranton and Hazelton in Pennsylvania.

The company consultant said it's safe and healthy and they will answer the complaint in court.


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