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article imageFDA releases CRF inspection report — Numerous flaws found

By Karen Graham     May 14, 2016 in Food
Pasco - The FDA released an inspection report dated March 17, 2016 showing that numerous equipment flaws were identified at the CRF Frozen Foods facility in Pasco, Wash. The company has been linked to a massive nationwide recall over Listeria fears.
Federal inspectors found a number of equipment flaws when they inspected the Pasco, Washington plant in March, more than a month before the company launched a recall now linked to a nationwide Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that reached into Canada and Mexico, reports Food Safety News.
Describing damaged equipment as being "nearly impossible" to clean, the FDA report notes this could be a factor in the contamination. The company was told on April 25, 2016, that a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak going back to 2013 was linked to its products using PulseNet 2.0 whole genome sequencing.
The two-page FDA 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:
1. a damaged plastic shovel used for food contact tasks;
2. chipping, cracking and missing pieces of plastic on food contact portions of equipment on the onion production line;
3. a plastic conveyor belt with missing plastic pieces on at least five legs that are in direct contact with onions;
4. utility knives used for trimming bad spots off onions that had initials etched on their blades; and
5. 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.
Improper cleaning at plants like CRF, where foods don't undergo processes like cooking to kill bacteria, leaves them open to bacterial contamination.
“These kinds of equipment issues are common in food companies,” said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for CRF, according to the Wall Street Journal. “When the FDA finds them, companies immediately set to work to remedy them. CRF was definitely was doing that.”
According to the FDA, the March inspection of the CRF plant was part of a "work plan" set up by the Seattle District. Microbial samples taken at that time proved to be positive for Listeria markers that indicated unsanitary conditions. The FDA says the positive findings​ prompted CRF to identify “additional cleaning and sampling that would be completed in those areas identified with positive results.”​
It was during this same period of time that the CDC began investigating a cluster of listeria infections dating back to September 2013. Then, in April 2016, the Ohio State Department of Agriculture identified listeria in a routine sampling of frozen vegetables produced at CRF. This finding prompted the first CRF recall on April 23.
More about fda report, crf frozen foods, massive recall, equipment flaws, Listeria monocytogenes
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