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Kellogg warned over listeria in cookie plant

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Kellogg Co, saying it found the food contaminant listeria monocytogenes while inspecting its food plant in Augusta, Georgia.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

The Food and Drug Administration says it found traces of listeria at a Kellogg Co. plant in while inspecting a company cookie plant in Augusta, Ga. earlier this year.

In a letter released Tuesday, dated June 7, FDA regulators said "during our inspection we found that you have significant violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations for food manufacturers." The pathogen was found in several spots along the production line that come in direct contact with food.

Kellogg makes a variety of Keebler and Famous Amos cookies at the factory and says it has "undertaken a number of aggressive actions to address (the FDA's) concerns, including comprehensive cleaning and extensive testing."

"While the FDA did not identify specific concerns with the food, we take this situation very seriously ... We have confidence in the safety of our food," Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Charles said.

Based on the findings of the inspection, FDA said it had "determined that the foods manufactured at your facility are adulterated ... in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health."

FDA said Kellogg had 15 working days following receipt of the letter to outline what it planned to do to correct the violations.

Eating food contaminated with the bacterium listeria monocytogenes can cause a dangerous infection called listeriosis. Symptoms may include diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States, an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill with listeriosis each year. Of those infected, about 260 die. Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection to the child, CDC said.

The company is already struggling to recover from massive recalls of food products last year.