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E.coli investigation concluded and Sunland food facility registration restored

By Joe Whitworth , 03-Jan-2013

An E.coli investigation in Canada has ended with no identified source and Sunland Inc., has had its food facility registration restored after its peanuts were linked to salmonella, in this news round-up.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) concluded the E.coli investigation into Cardinal Meat Specialists without finding a source of contamination.

Meanwhile, a US District Court judge entered the consent decree against Sunland and Jimmie D. Shearer, president and CEO of the company on 21 December.

CFIA E.coli investigation

The CFIA completed the investigation on 24 December into ingredients used in burgers produced at Cardinal Meat Specialists.

Canada has rigorous requirements for meat production to reduce the risk of E.coli, but even the best food safety systems cannot eliminate all potential opportunities for contamination all the time,” said the CFIA.

The agency looked at spices and domestic and international beef ingredients used in the production of burgers which were recalled due to E.coli 0157:H7 contamination between 12 and 15 December.

Spices were ruled out on 21 December as no food safety concerns were identified at the establishment that produced them and products tested were found to be negative forthe pathogen.

Beef ingredients from Australia and New Zealand also were declared as meeting all import certification and testing requirements.

The investigation looked at:

  • Assessing production, inspection and testing records;
  • Reviewing plant food safety procedures; and
  • Conducting additional testing on burger ingredients.

Sunland and FDA

The US Justice Department (DOJ) entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Sunland Inc., at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December.

 FDA suspended the registration of Sunland’s food facility on 26 November after the products were found to be the source of an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney which sickened 42 people in 20 states.

 Sunland has had its food facility registration restored but the company cannot process or distribute food from its peanut butter or peanut mill plants in Portales until it has complied with the consent decree’s requirements and receives written permission from the FDA.

 

As part of the decree, Sunland must retain an independent sanitation expert to develop a control program that must then be implemented; provide FDA the opportunity to inspect the facilities to assure compliance and conduct environmental monitoring and testing to ensure that disease-causing organisms are not present in the facility or in its finished foods.

The consent decree permits Sunland to receive, hold, and distribute raw, unshelled peanuts from storage because they are bound for processing facilities that include a “kill step” to eliminate Salmonella and other bacteria.

An earlier FDA investigation found packaging equipment was not effectively cleaned; collapsible mesh totes used to store and transport nuts were not cleaned and sanitized between uses; and processing equipment had unused connections that could facilitate the growth of pathogenic bacteria by allowing food material and water to accumulate.

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