(Photo: Phil Coale, AP)
The Food and Drug Administration letter, dated June 7, was sent less than two years after a Kellogg Eggo waffle plant in the same state was shut for similar reasons.
The inspection found flies and pools of water, the FDA said. The letter from District Director John Gridley didn’t say that any products were tainted with listeria, yet said they were “adulterated” and “may have become contaminated with filth.” The Augusta plant makes Keebler and Famous Amos cookies, and is one of five cookie bakeries Kellogg operates in North America.
“While the FDA did not identify specific concerns with the food, we take this situation very seriously,” Kris Charles, a spokeswoman for Battle Creek, Michigan-based Kellogg, said in an e-mail. “We have undertaken a number of aggressive actions to address their concerns including comprehensive cleaning and extensive testing.”
Kellogg’s response didn’t include dates for taking action at the plant, the FDA said. The regulator gave Kellogg 15 days to outline specific remedies to avoid injunction or product seizure.
Kellogg’s cookies are baked at a temperature high enough to kill any listeria present, according to Robert Gravani, a food science professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The lack of an FDA product recall suggests that listeria was not found in the cookies, he said. FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward declined to comment on a potential recall.
Listeria is a bacterium found in prepared foods and soil that can cause a serious infection in humans called listeriosis. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women, the young, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems, according to the FDA’swebsite.