A Delaware cheese company and two individual defendants have pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for distributing adulterated ricotta, queso fresco and fresh cheese curds in several neighboring states. U.S. v. Roos Foods, Inc., No. 16-0013 (D. Del., information filed January 22, 2016). Roos’ cheese was connected to a 2014 outbreak of Listeria that caused five adults and three newborns to contract listeriosis. The criminal information alleged the company produced the cheese in unsanitary conditions, including the “[f] ailure to clean food-contact surfaces as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food” and “failure to store raw materials or ingredients in a manner that protects against contamination.”
In their agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the defendants agreed to an injunction preventing them from processing or distributing food products until they undergo an FDA inspection and facility testing by an independent laboratory. The defendants must also hire a sanitation expert to prepare a sanitation-control program for employee training, environmental monitoring and remedial actions.
“The FDA will not tolerate food companies that fail to provide adequate safeguards and place the public health at risk by producing and shipping contaminated products,” an FDA official said in a January 22, 2016, press release. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to use the full force of our justice system against those that place profits over the health and safety of American consumers.”