Sangar Food Plant Shut Down: Listeriosis Tainted Celery Recall
Four Deaths Linked To Listeriosis Tainted Celery: Texas DHSH Shuts Down Sangar Fresh Cut Produce In San Antonio
The Texas Department of State Health Services has shut down and issued a recall of pduce from the Sangar Fresh Cut Produce Plant in San Antonio after laboratory tests of chopped celery revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes - a bacteria that can cause severe illness and even death, particularly in the old and sick.
State law allows DSHS to issue such orders when conditions exist that pose “an immediate and serious threat to human life or health.”
The recalled products – primarily cut fresh produce in sealed packages – were distributed to restaurants and institutional entities, such as hospitals and schools, and are not believed to be sold in grocery stores.
The testing was done as part of a DSHS investigation into 10 listeriosis cases, including five deaths, reported to the department over an eight-month period. Six of the 10 cases have been linked to chopped celery from the Sangar plant. The illnesses occurred in Bexar, Travis and Hidalgo counties. All of the illnesses were in people with serious underlying health problems.
Sangar Fresh Cut Produce says the Texas Department of State Health Services shut down is premature and the investigations and subsequent tests flawed.
Kenneth Sanquist Jr., the company's president, said in a statement Thursday that the state used flawed methods to collect its samples. The sample at the plant "appears" to have been taken by someone not wearing proper lab attire and proper gloves, and was transported in a nonrefrigerated container, he said.
"We question the validity of the state's lab results," Sanquist said, adding that the company offered use of a refrigerated container but the state declined.
The Texas DSHS stands by the decision to shut down and issue a recall notice and is contacting restaurants and food facilities believed to have received the recalled produce.