The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking a federal court to prevent a New York cheese manufacturer from operating because of a history of unsanitary conditions and producing cheese in a facility contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
According to a complaint for permanent injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Mexicali Cheese of Woodhaven, N.Y., and two of its officers, Edinson Vergara and Claudia Marin, produced cheese under persistent unsanitary conditions that contributed to widespread Listeriamonocytogenes contamination in Mexicali Cheese’s facility.
In addition, the complaint, filed Jan. 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, says that the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services found similar unsanitary conditions in addition to product contamination.
Mexicali Cheese makes and distributes a variety of soft Mexican cheeses to grocery stores and supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Mexicali Cheese’s products include queso fresco [fresh cheese], queso oaxaca [Oaxacan cheese] and queso para freir [cheese for frying].
If entered by the court, the injunction would stop the company and its officers from manufacturing and distributing food until they can bring their operations into full compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA food safety regulations.
“FDA filed this complaint to protect the health of consumers,” said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Working closely with New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, we took this step to ensure that consumers do not eat potentially dangerous foods from this company.”