The FDA confirmed earlier today that they have found the presence of the bacteria listeria monocytogenes at the SanGar Produce & Processing Plant in San Antonio.
The Texas Department of State Health Services closed the plant on October 20th and recalled all food that had passed through the processing facility since January after cases of listeria had been reported. Both government bodies concluded that four deaths were associated with contaminated celery that had been processed at the plant. The company’s president found the initial findings questionable, as reported by the AP:
Kenneth Sanquist Jr., the company's president, said in a statement Thursday that it questions the validity of the state's lab results because flawed methods were used to collect its samples. The sample at the plant "appears" to have been taken by someone not wearing proper lab attire and proper gloves, and was transported in a nonrefrigerated container, he said.
Listeria can been devastating if ingested, as the San Antonio Business Journal reports:
Listeria can cause listeriosis, a disease which can cause those who ingest the bacteria to become severely sick. In pregnant women and adults with weak immune systems, the bacteria can be fatal.
According to medical web-site Medic8, the bacteria infect 2,500 people annually in the U.S., 500 of whom die. The symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and can include gastrointestinal problems. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsionscan occur.