Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The FDA has sent a warning letter to Kellogg, giving it just 15 days to come up with a fool-proof plan to clean up its factory in Augusta, Georgia. The problem - Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The plant produces cookies - those delicious Keebler and Famous Amos ones. This bacterium was found in several spots along the production line, all of which come into direct contact with the cookies. The problem actually turned up earlier this year, and Kellogg promised to clean up the plant. It took a number of actions, but it still didn't pass the FDA's follow-up inspection.

This isn't the first time Kellogg is in trouble over Listeria, or has received a warning letter from the FDA. In September, 2009, the bacteria were found in Kellogg's Buttermilk Eggo Waffles manufactured at an Atlanta plant, which also produced frozen food products. This was also a case where Kellogg apparently made a huge effort to investigate the issue and clean up and sanitize the plant, but still failed the FDA follow-up inspection.

As other companies have found out, once bacteria are fairly wide-spread in a food manufacturing plant, it is often very difficult to get rid of - whether it be Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes. Plant workers can also be carriers without even knowing it. Listeria may be particularly tricky as it can survive and even multiply in the refrigerator. Did they look in there?

This is also an odd bacterium which may barely affect some people, but can be life-threatening to others. Pregnant women have to be especially careful, because they are much more likely to catch it, and it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery or illness of the newborn.

Symptoms to look out for: may include diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion and sometimes diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. A bit like the flu. See my earlier blogs for more on Listeria monocytogenes.

To your good health.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sort of outbreak raises the question as to whether big companies, such as Kellog, are scimping on basic health precautions in a rush to maximise shareholders' profits. The unwritten coda could be: let's see if we can can cut costs, and if there's an outbreak we will clean up the mess afterwards. This overlooks their moral responsibility for public good as well as being incredibly shortsighted in terms of public relations.