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Delaware cheese co. charged in connection to 2014 Listeria outbreak

via CDC

A Delaware cheese company has pleaded guilty to selling products tied to a multistate Listeria outbreak, which killed one person and sent several others to the hospital in 2014.

Roos Foods in Kenton sells ready-to-eat cheeses including ricotta and queso fresco, according to the Delaware District U.S. Attorney's office, which prosecuted the case.

Their products were tied to an outbreak of bacterial infection in early 2014, when the Centers for Disease Control says eight Hispanic people fell sick after they said they'd eaten soft cheese products. The CDC and FDA determined those had likely been sold by Roos to wholesalers in and around Delaware.

According to the CDC, one person died from their infection in California. Six others were hospitalized in Maryland, including two mothers and three newborns.

Pregnant women, newborns and the elderly are especially at risk for Listeriosis, caused by the bacteria L. mono, which can grow on food even in a refrigerator. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal issues, or even death.

Roos' products were recalled, and an FDA inspection found major sanitation issues at their Kenton facility, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. They say there were roof leaks, rust and uncleanable or dirty equipment in the production area.

The FDA found L. mono on some surfaces, and isolated it in Roos cheeses. They suspended Roos' food facility license. The company hasn't reopened.

Now, Roos is signing a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's office, and owners Ana Roos and Virginia Meija have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

They've also agreed to a proposed consent decree that requires them to fix the issues highlighted in the case before resuming any production in the future.


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