The FDA has released new information confirming the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in both finished product, and in environmental samples taken at the plant on October 14,15. The FDA has been cooperating with state health officials in Texas in the investigation of 10 of illnesses, including as many as 5 deaths, linked to Listeria in the past eight months. From the FDA release:
On November 2, 2010, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released results of its laboratory testing of processed finished product and environmental samples taken from SanGar Fresh Cut Produce, San Antonio, Texas on October 14-15. The results indicate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness, in processed celery and in multiple locations in the plant environment, including on food contact surfaces. The listeria identified in FDA samples matches the DNA fingerprint of the clinical cases of listeriosis reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
As part of its joint investigation with Texas state officials, the FDA also inspected the SanGar company’s premises and issued a summary of its findings to the firm on October 26. The Texas DSHS ordered SanGar to stop processing food on October 20, 2010 and to recall all product shipped from the San Antonio plant since January. FDA continues to work closely with Texas food safety officials to review corrective actions being taken by the company to eliminate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes at its facility.
Perhaps most important is this portion of the new information, "The listeria identified in FDA samples matches the DNA fingerprint of the clinical cases of listeriosis reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services. " In other words, genetic testing reveals that the same listeria that sickened and killed the individuals in Texas has been found in produce at SanGar’s facility, and on their premises. This would seem to raise very serious questions about the company’s denial of the announced link to their product.