Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroProgressives say go big and make life hard for GOP EPA closer to unveiling plan for tackling 'forever chemicals' House sends bill to Biden to avert government shutdown at midnight MORE (D-Conn.) is demanding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down the Dole food facility in Springfield, Ohio, linked to the multistate outbreak of listeria.
“Given that consumers have been severely sickened, and even killed, by salads produced at this facility, I urge you to immediately shut down the Dole Springfield plant,” she said in a letter to the FDA this week.
“Their blatant disregard for the health and safety of American families shows that Dole executives put company profits first, at the expense of consumers, and this type of behavior should not be tolerated.”
The contaminated salads that killed one person in the U.S. and three in Canada, and sickened dozens of others, were sold under various brand names, including Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar and President's Choice.
Citing the FDA’s own inspection reports, DeLauro said Dole did swab tests of surfaces at the Springfield facility in July 2014 that produced positive results of listeria contamination.
“Additionally, at least five more times in 2014 and three times in late 2015, Dole’s internal tests showed more listeria contamination at the Springfield facility, but Dole kept shipping salad from this plant until Jan. 21st of this year,” she said.
Dole temporarily suspended operations at the Springfield facility in January but re-opened in April after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in March saying the outbreak was over.
In a release last week, Dole said the FDA’s inspection reports dealt with issues at its plant that have been corrected.
“We have been working in collaboration with the FDA and other authorities to implement ongoing improved testing, sanitation and procedure enhancements, which have resulted in the recent reopening of our Springfield salad plant,” the company said in the release.
Dole also said it’s been contacted by the Department of Justice, which has launched its own investigation, and will cooperate with the agency to answer questions and address any concerns.
In the interim, DeLauro wants the FDA to stop the Springfield facility from operating. She called it an "outrage" that people had to die in order for Dole to close its plant for four months.
“I urge you to immediately shut down Dole’s Springfield facility in order to put a stop to future outbreaks from this facility,” she said. “Dole must be held accountable.”
Dole Spokesman William Goldfield could not be reached for comment.