A federal court has ordered a Los Angeles-based seafood company to cease operations after food inspectors found listeria bacteria in its processing facilities, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors in 2013 and 2014 documented a pattern of unsanitary conditions at L.A. Star Seafood that led to the contamination, the Justice Department said.
The conditions, officials said, were a result of inadequately-cleaned surfaces and utensils used for cutting fish.
L.A Star Seafood, located downtown, processes and distributes ready-to-eat smoked and salt-cured seafood, including cold-smoked mackerel and steelhead trout, as well as pickled herring and sprats.
FDA inspectors found widespread contamination by listeria monocytogenes – the bacteria that cause listeriosis – in L.A. Star Seafood's facility, including on its processing-room floor and on food-contact surfaces, the Justice Department said. Listeriosis can cause fever and muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms and, in serious cases, death.
"L.A. Star Seafood was repeatedly informed that the sanitation practices at its facility were deficient," said acting Assistant Atty. Gen. Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department's Civil Division.
The FDA said it filed a complaint against the seafood company in January in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
L.A. Star Seafood's owners, Sima and Sam Goldring, have agreed to be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction that requires the company halt all manufacturing until the FDA determines that its facilities and operations are safe.
In 2012, the seafood company -- at the FDA's request -- recalled some of its products because of potential contamination, the agency said. After a 2013 inspection of L.A. Star's facility, the FDA sent the company a warning letter detailing steps it needed to take to meet FDA requirements.
An inspection the following year "documented the company and its owners' continued failure to comply with the law," the FDA said.
According to the FDA, no illnesses have been reported in connection with L.A. Star Seafood's products.