After 5 Deaths, Recalls From Texas Food Processing Plant

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Texas health officials closed the SanGar Produce & Processing Co. plant in San Antonio and recalled all sealed packages of fresh cut fruits and vegetables that had been shipped from the plant and distributed to restaurants, hospitals and schools since January.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) investigators say six of 10 cases of listeriosis poisoning in three Texas counties were linked with chopped celery produced by the plant. Investigators are also currently looking into whether five listeriosis-related deaths were linked to food processed at the same plant, which was closed Oct. 20. (More on Top 10 Product Recalls)

All of the deaths occurred in people with “serious underlying health conditions” — those who are always most at risk during food-borne illness outbreaks.  The AP reports:

The DSHS said its inspectors found problems with sanitation at the San Antonio plant, including a condensation leak over a food production area, and prohibited SanGar from reopening the plant without agency approval.

SanGar’s president, Kenneth Sanquist Jr., denied that his company had a sanitation problem by pointing to independent health inspections conducted recently, but did not go into detail. (More on Photos: From Farm to Fork).

DSHS officials recommend disposing of any packaged produce that may have come from SanGar. The plant services Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma, according to company’s website. For more information and a list of listeriosis poisoning symptoms, see the official DSHS announcement.

UPDATE: Sanquist has accused the DSHS of improper sampling methods in a statement.  According to his allegation, the health inspector was not wearing “proper” lab attire and transported the sample in a non-refrigerated container. Additionally, the number of people who have died from listeriosis poisoning is four, rather than the earlier reported five.

BREAKING NEWS: Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., announced Thursday the voluntary recall of certain cantaloupes grown in and shipped from Arizona, and distributed in and around Detroit. The fruit is being recalled because of potential salmonella contamination.

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