US authorities are yet to establish regulations relating to third-party food plant auditors – six months after the start of an outbreak later attributed to lacklustre third-party inspection practices.
Third-party auditors gave Colorado-based cantaloupe producer Jensen Farms a “superior” rating, only months before a Listeria monocytogenes contamination at the company’s facilities led to an outbreak of listeriosis across the US.
A US government report found that several individuals who conducted inspections at Jensen Farms facilities largely ignored FDA anti-microbial guidance.
Speaking to FoodQualityNews.com, Colorado State University associate professor of food microbiology Dr Lawrence Goodridge appealed to industry figures to take lessons from the event.
The food safety expert, who provided advice to Colorado state officials during the outbreak, has called for the implementation of stricter regulations surrounding the practices of third-party auditors in the US.
A total of 146 people across 28 states were infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes, of which 30 died.
Several more deaths have unofficially attributed to the outbreak.
The contamination, which officially began on 2 September 2011, went on to become the worst foodborne outbreak in modern US history.