An action has been commenced in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against New York food processor, NY Gourmet Salads, Inc.  NY Gourmet Salads makes ready-to-eat deli salads, seafood salads, and cream cheeses for its customers in New York and New Jersey.  For additional information, see the FDA’s Press Release here.

FDA inspections have documented insanitary conditions at NY Gourmet’s facility in Brooklyn 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.

More recently, FDA testing found Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) throughout their facility and in a sample of finished product. The complaint also says that the strain of L. mono found in a sample of chickpea salad in 2010 was indistinguishable from the strain of L. mono found in the Brooklyn facility during a 2009 inspection, indicating that the L. mono had likely formed a lasting presence in the facility.

Listeria in food can lead to Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium. Although there are other types of Listeria, most cases of listeriosis are caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria is found in soil and water. Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products. Listeria has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in certain ready-to-eat foods, like hot dogs and cold cuts from the deli counter, contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.