Damaged equipment at a frozen food plant — described by federal inspectors as being impossible to clean — could be a contributing factor in a Listeriosis outbreak that began in 2013 and is ongoing.
Staff from the Food and Drug Administration inspected the CRF Frozen Foods LLC plant in Pasco, WA, from March 14-17, according to a report posted Thursday on the FDA’s website.
The company stopped production at the plant April 25 after being notified by federal officials that frozen vegetables produced there had been linked by genetic testing to several people who had infections from Listeria monocytogenes.
On Friday, CRF referred questions about the FDA inspection report to the communications staff at its affiliate, R.D. Offutt Co. Staff at R.D. Offutt did not respond to requests for comment Friday. CRF has not updated its online statement about the situation since May 4, after it expanded its recall to include all food produced at the Pasco plant since May 2014.
The two-page FDA inspection report includes boilerplate citations of applicable sections of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act on its second page. The first page includes hand-written observations documenting:
- a damaged plastic shovel used for food contact tasks;
- chipping, cracking and missing pieces of plastic on food contact portions of equipment on the onion production line;
- a plastic conveyor belt with missing plastic pieces on at least five legs that are in direct contact with onions;
- utility knives used for trimming bad spots off onions that had initials etched on their blades; and
- blue tape being used as a temporary repair on a cracked metal plate above a consumer pack line that was repacking product for export at the time of the inspection.