McCain Foods Management Ignored Positive Listeria Assays

11/09/2018

Following trace-back to the Colton, California plant owned by McCain Foods of Canada, the U.S. FDA conducted a detailed audit of procedures to monitor for the presence of pathogenic bacteria. It was determined that for 30 months, management of the Colton plant, packing leafy vegetables ignored presumptive positive Listeria and Salmonella assays.

It is standard procedure to hold batches which yield a presumptive positive until completion of confirmatory assays. The fact that management released product knowingly represents profound disregard for public health and capricious business practice.

In the event, FDA issued a Class II recall of all products shipped after January 1st 2016. Product was shipped through North America and exported to China and Korea. The voluntary recall issued on October 13th for recently processed items has resulted in a chain of secondary recalls by manufacturers of wraps, ready-to-eat foods and salads distributed by Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, 7-Eleven and others.

The examples of the Peanut Corporation of America and the Bluebell Creamery should have been sufficient warning for the management of the Colton plant management to have responded appropriately to preliminary isolation of either Salmonella or Listeria. Apart from embargoing suspect product, surveillance assays should have been conducted to determine the source of infection in the plant with appropriate corrective action. Given the allegations arising from the FDA audit, it is highly likely that criminal charges will be brought against management and McCain Foods will face civil suits to compensate customers including manufacturers and in turn the retailers.

It is questionable whether Colton Foods was simply a “rogue plant” or whether the corporate culture at McCain Foods led to decisions which placed profit ahead of safety. The only redeeming feature of the episode is that no outbreaks of either salmonellosis or listeriosis have been traced back to the plant.






















































































































































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