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Popular Hamtramck deli salad, pierogi and dip maker cited for listeria
Detroit Free Press - 1/15/2020
Jan. 15--A Michigan manufacturer of popular deli salads, pierogi and dips has been ordered to immediately stop making and selling its products following a federal investigation that cited it for "significant" unsanitary conditions.
A federal judge in Detroit issued the permanent injunction against Hamtramck-based Home Style Foods after listeria was found in the company's food prep area, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday.
Listeria can cause serious or fatal infections in children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. It also can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
The company also violated safety regulations associated with the processing of fish products, the FDA said.
The Hamtramck company came under intense pressure from the federal government, which on Monday filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, alleging Home Style Foods had repeatedly violated federal food safety regulations over the years and did nothing to fix the problems. The FDA said it inspected the Hamtramck facility seven times between 2009-2018. Each time, the agency said, investigators found "significant objectional conditions."
The FDA said it issued Home Style Foods a warning letter in 2016, and held a meeting with the company the following year, but the problems remained.
"The defendants repeatedly promised to take corrective actions to address the objectional conditions," the FDA said in a press release. "However, the FDA'sJune 2018 inspection showed that the defendants have failed to take effective measures to bring Home Style Foods' ready-to-eat food processing operations into compliance with the law."
Efforts to reach Home Style Foods' owner, Michael Kowalski, were unsuccessful.
On Wednesday morning, the company emailed a statement to the Free Press saying they agreed voluntarily to the temporary closure of the facility to address the FDA concerns, issuing this statement:
" We are working to institute food safety protocols and employee training to enhance our food safety practices.
"This is a proactive measure done in agreement with the FDA; it is NOT the result of a product contamination, a product recall or other known public health risk. There have been no confirmed illnesses related to our products. The consent decree does not require Home Style Foods to remove, recall or perform corrective actions on any products currently in the market.
"The FDA is not required to provide a timeline for this process, but we anticipate our diligent efforts will allow the facility to be reopened without undue delay."
The FDA said it is not aware of any illnesses related to the company's deli products, but advises consumers who think they may have been sickened by the products should see a doctor and contact the FDA. Symptoms of listeria include high fever, severe headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Reported symptoms usually start one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria.
"Michigan's food supply should always be safe, and that is why the Justice Department takes this case so seriously," said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said. "There simply is no excuse for serving contaminated food products."
In 2002, the Kowalski Sausage company bought Home Style foods, makers of cole slaw, seafood salad, macaroni salad and dips sold at deli counters and grocery stores.
Under the consent decree, Home Style Foods is prohibited from making or selling any products until certain requirements are met. It also requires the defendants to fix the problems and notify the FDA before operations resume.
Contact Susan Selasky: Sselasky@freepress.com
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