The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried today issued an Immediate Final Order to Penn Dutch Meat & Seafood Market, ordering that they immediately cease operations and close their Margate store. The order was issued after Penn Dutch violated multiple stop-use and stop-sale orders and endangered public health by possibly distributing food products contaminated withListeria pathogens.
“As with any Department inspection process, Penn Dutch was provided an opportunity to remedy the situation by disposing of possibly dangerous contaminated products and sanitizing tools and workspaces. It’s unfortunate that Penn Dutch chose to disregard our directives and endanger public safety,” stated Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Moving equipment, products, and people in and out of the Listeria monocytogenes positive areas increases the potential for the spread of pathogens, and exposes Penn Dutch’s customers and employees to a pathogenic bacteria capable of creating a serious health risk. As the state’s consumer watchdog, our Department takes potential foodborne illness extremely seriously, and the Listeria bacteria has a 20 percent mortality rate.”
Background: Since February 2019, the Department has confirmed multiple samples of Listeria monocytogenes at both Penn Dutch locations in Margate and Hollywood, Florida. After previous inspections identified the bacteria’s presence, Penn Dutch remedied the issues and resumed operations. On September 9, 2019 the Department’s Division of Food Safety collected 110 environmental samples in various areas of Penn Dutch’s Margate store. On September 16, 2019, our Department’s food laboratory found that 13 of the samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
Positive Sample Locations: The positive Listeria samples were from the following areas in the Margate store: deli area; deli slicing room; special cuts room; seafood display; seafood cutting area; ready cooler; tray wash hallway; chicken production room; and future room. This includes cutting boards, seafood display trays, and slicers.
Re-Inspection & Violations: Following the confirmation of positive samples, Department inspectors conducted a follow-up inspection at the Margate store on the same day and issued a “Re-Inspection Required” summary citing a violation of Section 500.10(1)(f), Florida Statutes, relating to food that: “has been produced, prepared, packed, transported, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered diseased, unwholesome, or injurious to health;” as evidenced by environmental samples found positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
September 18 Inspection: Stop Use Orders were issued for 15 areas and or items/equipment that were found to and could have potentially come into contact with Listeria monocytogenes. On September 18, the Department conducted a Focused Visit at the Margate store to check on the issued Stop Use Orders and observed that many had been violated. Department staff alerted the Margate store personnel that the Stop Use Orders remained in effect. On the same day, Penn Dutch announced to the public, via its Facebook page that, “Until Further Notice our Margate Location will be open every day from 9 am – 5 pm.”
Determination: The Department’s Director of the Division of Food Safety, Dr. Matthew Curran, has determined that the continued operation of Penn Dutch’s Margate store presents an immediate danger to public health, safety, and welfare.
“When Listeria monocytogenes is found in a region or area of a facility, it’s general practice to sequester the entire region or area where it was found, as there are no barriers to prevent its migration within that region or area. This could be a cooler, freezer, or room where Listeria monocytogenes was discovered,” said Dr. Matthew Curran. “If Listeria monocytogenes is present in a room, it’s nearly impossible to sample every square inch and identify all of the locations the pathogens could have spread to — pathogens are living organisms and are transferrable and mobile. To be safe and protect public health, it is necessary and reasonable to quarantine every possible location pathogens are likely to be present.”
Listeria monocytogenes background:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die. The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems.”
The CDC also states, “Most people with invasive listeriosis require hospital care, and about one in five people with the infection die. When listeriosis occurs during pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death. Listeriosis during pregnancy results in fetal loss in about 20% and newborn death in about 3% of cases.”
While elevated temperature can kill pathogens, products must be heated thoroughly to a precise temperature and cooked sufficiently. Putting that responsibility on the consumer would be irresponsible and pose a serious public health risk — pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes can readily spread in a kitchen and throughout a home, and cause harm or even death.
For Consumers: The Department does not recommend consumption of food containing harmful pathogens, regardless of preparation. If you suspect you may have contaminated food we recommend discarding the food, sanitizing any areas which the food or food container came into contact, contacting the business where it was purchased, and reporting it to the Department at 1-800-HELP-FLA, 1-800-FL-AYUDA en Español, or FloridaConsumerHelp.com.