FDA tells Kellogg to clean up cookie plant in Georgia

FDA to Kellogg: One of your facilities is contaminated with listeria. Clean it up.

That’s the gist of a warning letter, dated June 7, the Food and Drug Administration sent to Kellogg after a February inspection of a cookie plant found Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes the food poisoning listeriosis. The Augusta, Ga. plant makes various Keebler and Famous Amos cookies.

The agency didn’t find the pathogen in any Kellogg foods, but on and around conveyor belts in the production line. The agency said:

“We note that although your finished product cookies may not support the growth of L. monocytogenes, the positive environmental swabs are indicators of insanitary conditions in your facility and demonstrate a failure of cleaning and sanitation operations that may allow for contamination of foods with filth or pathogens.”


Speaking of filth in the factory, the agency also took issue with pooling water that was observed dripping into an open mixer bowl and flies swarming near food mixers.

This isn’t the first time listeria and Kellogg have been in headlines. Inspectors found the food-poisoning organism in 2009 in a Kellogg plant in Atlanta, Ga., prompted by contaminated Eggo buttermilk waffles—the FDA sent Kellogg a warning letter back then too.

The FDA requests, as it did then, a plan to correct the sanitation violations within 15 working days. Or else. The agency writes:

“Failure to implement lasting corrective action may result in FDA taking regulatory action, such as seizure or injunction, without further notice.”

A Bloomberg article quotes Kris Charles, a Kellogg spokeswoman, as saying:

“While the FDA did not identify specific concerns with the food, we take this situation very seriously. … We have undertaken a number of aggressive actions to address their concerns including comprehensive cleaning and extensive testing.”

That’s good to hear, especially for cookie fans.


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