Produce Processing news: Sangar Produce Listeria Story Still Unfolding

Sangar Produce & Processing, the San Antonio company whose celery is allegedly linked to a listeriosis outbreak in three Texas counties, has requested an expedited hearing before the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

On Oct. 20, 2010, the DSHS ordered Sangar to cease all produce processing and recall all products shipped since January. The action was part of an investigation that began six days earlier at an unidentified food establishment that used the company’s products. The DSHS then collected and tested samples from the Sangar produce processing facility and ordered the factory to close after laboratory tests of chopped celery indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, according to DSHS spokeswoman Carrie Williams.

 Sangar provided documents from a private laboratory indicating negative Listeria results from the same batch and challenged the validity of the DSHS ruling based on manner in which the agency’s inspector collected and transported the samples.

 DSHS disputes claims of mishandling by the inspector.

The DSHS has traced six of 10 listeriosis cases reported over an eight-month period to the Sangar produce processing plant, and is still investigating the origins of the other four.

Sangar has requested a scheduled hearing on its reopening to be moved up from Nov. 17. Williams confirmed that the hearing could take place this week.

Symptoms of listeriosis may include fever, diarrhea, vomiting and muscle aches. Onset may occur from three to 70 days after exposure. The disease usually affects elderly people, newborns, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.

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