> Salmonella Report leads FDA to Seize Almost $4million of Milk Powder - The Food Safety Company Salmonella Report leads FDA to Seize Almost $4million of Milk Powder - The Food Safety Company
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    Thursday, 1 December 2016

    Salmonella Report leads FDA to Seize Almost $4million of Milk Powder

    In a rare move against a major cooperative, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced it had seized over 1.8 million kilograms of milk powder from a leading dairy producer. Valley Milk Products LLC, of Strasburg, VA, incurred the penalty after FDA inspectors uncovered food safety violations in their processing plant. The numerous 40 to 50 pound sacks of apprehended milk powder were sourced from a manufacturing plant which had failed FDA inspections, and were reportedly worth just under $4 million.

    Img source: Food Manufacture
    The seized product was officially deemed adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (1938). ‘Adulteration’ is a broad term, however, applied when a food product ‘fails to meet federal or state standards.’ Often it’s used to describe the replacing of certain ingredients with alternative ones in a deliberate attempt by the manufacturer to save money or increase profits, but which regulators consider unacceptable (for example, the replacement of natural vanilla flavouring with artificial vanilla flavouring may be considered fraudulently adulterated if the packaging says ‘naturally flavoured’). Nevertheless, the 1938 Act itself also finds food to be ‘adulterated’ if it contains a dangerous ‘poisonous or deleterious substance,’ or if the conditions in which it was prepared, packed, or held were sufficiently unsanitary to be injurious to health. Adulteration isn’t always about fraud; it can also be about negligence; and the latter two conditions above seem to be those which have come to settle the Valley Milk case.

    The production plant in question underwent FDA inspection in July-September 2016, and was found to be unsanitary. Specifically, condensation from the ceiling was seen to be dripping into the machinery in which the milk powder was produced, and the machines themselves were found to have residues inside them even after they had been cleaned. What’s more, the FDA claims that ‘environmental swabs collected during the inspection confirmed the presence of Salmonella meleagridis on surfaces food came into contact with after being pasteurized.’

    Pretty much the exact same salmonella strains had been found by the FDA in inspections of the same company in 2010, 2011 and 2013. However, the FDA has not commented upon why they waited until now to act.

    Thankfully, to date, there have been no reported cases of salmonella poisoning from Valley Milk products; but the affair raises uncomfortable memories of other high-profile salmonella outbreaks from dry foods, including the 2014 Peanut Corporation of America outbreak, spread by peanut butter sold by the now-jailed Parnell Brothers.

    Melinda K. Plasier, FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, said the FDA had urged Valley Milk to trigger a recall voluntarily after the inspections earlier this year; but when the company failed to act, the FDA requested the U.S. District Court of Western Virginia to send U.S. Marshalls to seize the products on the FDA’s behalf.  

    James Stannard

    James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London.
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