The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suspended the facility registration for Texas seafood producer, Topway Enterprises Inc. after it consecutively failed to meet safety standards at its processing facility.
The FDA issued a safety alert on July 18th warning restaurants and retailers to stop selling ready-to-eat (RTE) seafood products from Topway, also doing business as Kazy’s Gourmet Shop due to traces of Listeria found in their raw tuna and salmon products.
The safety alert also advises consumers in the Texas and Louisiana area to throw out any Topway RTE seafood products they’ve purchased and to contact food retailers to identify where their RTE seafood products have been sourced if unsure.
Listeria monocytogens is a pathogen that can manifest in RTE meals and causes the foodborne infection known as listeriosis. Symptoms vary from vomiting, nausea and persistent fever. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience life-threatening effects.
The FDA first inspected the processing facility in February and found 31 cases of non-pathogenic Listeria throughout Topways production unit, prompting the federal agency to issue an ‘inspectional observation form’ also known as an ‘FDA Form 483’.
The form outlined poor employee sanitation and production practices, inadequate processing conditions such as dirty water on fish cooler floors, uncleaned utensils for processing seafood, fish particles on production room walls and unsanitary residue on seafood processing tables.
In addition, a state-level inspection was also conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services from June 24th to July 3rd to see if the facility made advancements to comply with the FDA safety standards.
Instead, the Texas-based agency found the processing plant’s Listeria count nearly doubled since its prior inspection, with 66 non-pathogenic Listeria positive samples as well as four environmental swabs that tested positive for Listeria monocytogens.
According to the FDA, Topway still has not made ‘adequate’ advances to comply with the FDA safety standards despite telling federal officials it would stop production and recall certain products.
In addition, the seafood company continued production by moving its equipment to a temporary location while its main facility was being cleaned.
“The FDA and the Texas DSHS have documented a pattern of food safety violations at the Topway facility as well as an unwillingness and disregard by the company to cease operations and correct severe violations at their facility. Topway’s unsafe practices not only violated the law but also jeopardized the health of consumers as the company continued to knowingly distribute food products likely to be contaminated with Listeria for public consumption,”
As of now, the FDA has not verified whether any individuals from the Texas and Lousiana region are sick from these RTE seafood products but asks consumers who think they may be affected to contact health officials.
The FDA is currently working with Topway to address the violation at both its main and temporary processing locations. Once proper food safety standards are met the FDA will reconsider whether or not it will authorize the seafood producer to distribute its products in the future.