Fed Lawyers Halt NAE Food Distribution In Schools Amid Overwhelming Positive Listeria Results

Mar 23, 2016 05:44 AM EDT | By Chandan Das

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Following several years of inspections, warnings as well as notices by the Food and Drug Administration Federal, federal attorneys led by the Consumer Protection Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil complaint on Monday seeking to immediately stop the Native American Enterprises LLC from distributing adulterated food.

The action comes in the wake of positive results on Listeria tests as well as continued warnings from the federal officials to the Wichita-based food manufacturing company producing refried beans and sauces and instant taco meat products, Food Safety News reported quoting the complaint lodged with the U.S. District Court in Kansas. Aside from the company, the complaint also names part-owner William N. McGreevy as well as production manager Robert C. Connor.

The Native American Enterprise supplies foods to public schools in Kansas, the U.S. military and several restaurants. The family-owned food company was established in 1930, and its present owners include brothers William and Scott McGreevy, who belong to the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

During an inspection by FDA inspectors in April 2015, it was found that unhygienic conditions prevailed in the company's facility. The inspectors also detected Listeria Monocytogenes, or L. mono, as well as unhealthy practices by employees. A few months later, in August 2015, the inspectors gathered 100 environmental samples at company premises and 39 of these tested positive for Listeria. Another 34 samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, five others were positive for various other Listeria species.

Since Listeria monocytogenes possess the aptitude to survive and thrive even in refrigerated and high-salt environments, it is considered to be a major public health hazard in ready-to-eat refined beans and sauces, the complaint stated.

Aside from the FDA, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is also regulating the Native American Enterprise facility since it produces a taco filling with meat products. Now, the federal food safety agencies are seeking that the district court in Wichita permanently restrain as well as instruct the company to issue an order ceasing the receipt, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, holding or distributing any food till the facility complies with the law.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Constance Georgostathis, the daughter of an Ohio woman, who is currently recovering from a coma following consumption of listeria-tainted Dole salad in January, which claimed one life and made 18 others sick prompting the company to recall bagged greens in 23 states, has filed a federal lawsuit last week accusing the food manufacturer of neglect in failing to fulfill the federal as well as state food safety laws, Food World News reported.

Georgostathis has sought unspecified damages for her mother Angeliki "Kiki" Christofield. Christofield. "Testing by the Ohio Department of Health on the same bag of Dole prepackaged salad mix that Mrs. Christofield had consumed showed that it was positive for Listeria," her civil complaint states.

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