FDA issues warning to Kellogg over listeria bacteria at Eggo plant

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Kellogg gets warning letter over conditions at Eggo plant.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to the Kellogg Co. after government testing showed the company's Georgia facility that manufactures Eggo waffles was contaminated with the listeria bacteria and had numerous sanitation violations.

The letter, just made public, is a potential public relations nightmare as the company refills freezer cases short on Eggo products after the discovery of listeria in buttermilk waffles at the plant last summer and subsequent flooding. The contamination and flooding forced the company to pull products from the market and then halted production.

The FDA said that in testing conducted in late October it found listeria throughout the facility and discovered several sanitation violations including open trash just inches from where the raw food products were. Listeria in food can cause gastrointestinal problems or, in rare cases, the more serious listeriosis -- which can be fatal.

Among the other sanitary issues the FDA said it found: ducts and pipes dripping into the area where the food was being prepared, workers not following procedures for hand washing and cleanliness.

"You should take prompt action to correct these violations." the FDA's acting district director LaTonya M. Mitchell wrote to Kellogg's CEO. "We may take further action if you do not promptly correct these violations. For instance, we may take further action to seize your product(s) and/or enjoin your firm from operating."

Kellogg maintains it has addressed all the issues and its products are safe to eat.

"The safety of our foods is of utmost importance to Kellogg Company. While the FDA letter was filed publicly yesterday, the situation described in the letter relates to inspections conducted four months ago in October after the plant was closed for enhanced cleaning and the flood in Atlanta that affected our facility," Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Charles told WalletPop in an e-mail. "Before opening the facility, we worked cooperatively with both the Agency and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and we completed comprehensive testing and monitoring. We have made a variety of enhancements in our facility, and have fully addressed all of the observations in the letter. Eggo products are safe to consume."

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