FDA Warns Kellogg About Listeria

Food borne pathogen listeria monocytogenes caused by unsanitary conditions

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued to the Kellogg Company, best known for making Corn Flakes cereal, a  warning letter after the pathogen Listeria was found at its Georgia food manufacturing facility.

The recent warning stems from a February 7 inspection of the manufacturing facility when investigators collected a variety of samples consisting of finished products and environmental swabs. FDA lab analyses of the environmental swabs found the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a gram-positive bacterium.

"About 2,500 become ill from Listeria each year."

Listeria is considered one of the most virulent food borne pathogens with a fatality rate of up to 30 percent in clinical studies. Manifestations of listeriosis include septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis, and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women, which can result in spontaneous abortion or stillbirth.

L. monocytogenes is associated with such foods as raw milk, cheeses, especially soft varieties; ice cream, raw vegetables, raw meats and poultry, and smoked fish. Its ability to grow at low temperatures means it can multiply even in refrigerated foods.

FDA inspectors also said the company had significant violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for food manufacturers. Based on that determination along with the environmental swabs, the letter warned that foods had been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions where they might have become contaminated with filth, or be considered injurious to health.

Of the environmental swabs taken, 15 were positive for the pathogen. Seven of the positive swabs were taken from direct food-contact surfaces including areas of the conveyer belt. The FDA said the results suggest that L. monocytogenes may have been transported throughout the facility and established in niche areas, and was the result of inadequate cleaning and sanitation.

Investigators also observed more than 100 flies in the facility, a build-up of a black substance and pooling water from a leak. Kellogg has 15 days to respond to the letter with proposed remediation efforts.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 14, 2011
Last Updated:
June 15, 2011