AUGUSTA, Ga., June 15 (UPI) -- Federal officials sent a warning letter to Kellogg's after inspectors found bacterial contamination in the company's Augusta, Ga., cookie bakery.
In a letter sent last week to plant manager Keith Downing from the FDA's Atlanta district office, District Director John Gridley said inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in samples taken throughout the plant and "significant violations" of Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for food manufacturers.
Based on the inspection, "we have determined that the foods manufactured at your facility are adulterated" within the context of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act "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."
The agency said in the letter, released Tuesday, inspectors found samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes that seemed genetically identical to a strain found at the plant during an inspection in 2010.
"The presence of a persistent strain of L. monocytogenes in your facility between January 2010 and February 2011 is significant in that it demonstrates that your cleaning and sanitation efforts were inadequate to remove this organism," the warning letter read.
Keebler and Famous Amos cookies are baked at Kellogg's Augusta facility, along with Mother's brands and cookies for the Girl Scouts.
The FDA said the cookies might not support the bacteria's growth, but "the positive environmental swabs are indicators of insanitary conditions in your facility and demonstrate a failure of cleaning and sanitation operations that may allow for contamination of foods with filth or pathogens."
"The safety of our food is of utmost importance to Kellogg," company spokeswoman Kris Charles said in a statement to The Augusta Chronicle. "While the FDA did not identify specific concerns with the food, we take this situation very seriously.
Gridley said plant officials should take "prompt actions" to correct the violations included in the letter and establish procedures to prevent future violations.