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Was FDA or Primus Labs right on the Listeria Cantaloupe Audit?

Audit.jpgElizabeth Weise, USA TODA just posted a few moments ago “Listeria-linked farm had rated high in third-party audit.” The whole story is worth a read, but here are my favorite parts:

Here are the FDA concerns about the Jensen Farms packing house from its inspections done on Sept. 22 and 23 (2011), followed by quotes from the Primus audit report from July 25, 2011.

FDA: “The packing facility’s design allowed water to pool on the floor near equipment and employee walkways.”

Primus audit: “Are floor surfaces in good condition, with no standing water, no debris trapping cracks and are they easy to clean? Total Compliance.” 10 of 10 points.

FDA: “The packing facility floor was constructed in a manner that made it difficult to clean.”

Primus audit: “Are the floor drains where they are needed for drainage and cleanup? Total Compliance.” 5 of 5 points.

FDA: “The design of the packing facility equipment, including equipment used to wash and dry the cantaloupe, did not lend itself to be easily or routinely cleaned and sanitized. Several areas on both the washing and drying equipment appeared to be uncleanable, and dirt and product buildup was visible on some areas of the equipment, even after it had been disassembled, cleaned and sanitized.” 

Primus audit: “Does equipment design and condition (e.g. smooth surfaces, smooth weld seams, non-toxic materials, no wood) facilitate effective cleaning and maintenance?” Total Compliance.” 10 of 10 points.

Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose firm is representing the families of nine people who died in the outbreak and 26 who where sickened, said he has never sued a third-party audit firm but is thinking this might be the time to do it.

The auditing companies not only get paid by the people they’re auditing, but insulate themselves from liability through their contracts, Marler said.

“Basically (the contracts) say something to the effect that., ‘Yeah, we’re auditing you, but we’re not responsible if something goes bad.’”

Primus Labs – something went really bad. There are nearly 125 who were sickened and 25 or more who have died. And, you “gave the Jensen Farms packing house in Granada, Colo. a “superior” rating.”