Congresswoman calls for Dole listeria plant to be closed

A US politician has been vocal in a campaign to shut down a facility in Springfield, Ohio that has been linked to a fatal listeria outbreak.

The plant is run by Dole Food and produces bagged salads. The company temporarily closed the plant and initiated a voluntary recall of goods on 27 January 2016, but Democrat Connecticut congresswoman Rosa DeLauro believes further exemplary action is necessary.

In the six month prior to this, 19 cases of illness requiring hospital treatment have been linked to salads from the Dole factory by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has included one death in the US, and more worryingly three in Canada.

DeLauro believes the outbreak can be linked to health violations at the Springfield plant dating back to at least March 2014, which Dole executives were slow to rectify. In a public appeal to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made on 6 May, she says: ‘Given that consumers have been severely sickened, and even killed, by salads produced at this facility, I urge you to immediately shut down the Dole Springfield plant.

‘Their blatant disregard for the health and safety of American families shows that Dole executives put company profits first, at the expense of consumers, and this type of behaviour should not be tolerated. The fact that Dole officials were aware of a food-borne illness contamination in their facility, yet continued to ship out the product, is absolutely unconscionable.

‘FDA reports dating back to March 2014 cite at least 16 problems that could contribute to food safety issues in the facility.’

Dole has not responded to DeLauro attack, but issued a statement on 26 April to the effect that it is collaborating with both the FDA and Department of Justice, and that previously identified safety issues were addressed when they were raised.   

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