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Contamination at Texas Food Processing Plant Linked to Four Deaths

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Last week, the San Antonio-based Sangar Produce and Processing plant was shut down by Texas authorities for food contamination that has been linked to four deaths.

According to Texas state lab tests, chopped celery at the plant was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous bacteria that can cause listeriosis along with meningitis, pneumonia, spontaneous abortion in pregnant women, and even death at the rate of 20-30% for people who are infected. All of the four people who died in Texas apparently contracted listeriosis from the Sangar chopped celery.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Wednesday ordered Sangar Produce and Processing to immediately stop processing food and recall all products shipped from its San Antonio plant since January.

Besides the bacteria, inspectors found a condensation leak above a food product area, dirt on a food-preparation table, and hand-washing problems at the San Antonio plant, the state health department said. The state said that it is contacting distributors, restaurants and others who may have received Sangar products. -CNN

Strangely, the plant is strongly disagreeing with the state’s findings, insisting that over the past three years it has had an “excellent record of safety and health” and that its own lab tests contradict those done by the state.

Sangar products, which include several varieties of produce, are distributed to large facilities like schools, hospitals and restaurants. Since it’s possible that its celerery has contaminated other products at the plant, Sangar has been ordered to cease all operations and recall all produce shipped form its plant since January.

If a more thorough investigation confirms that Sangar’s contaminated food is indeed responsible for the deaths of four people, I hope that this company will take responsibility for the harms it has caused.