FDA Warns Tyson Foods About Seafood Health Violations

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Regulators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have issued a warning letter to Tyson Foods Inc. citing serious violations of health regulations at its Fort Worth, Texas. seafood soup manufacturing plant.

The letter, dated November 13, stated that the company’s seafood soups and sauces were produced in unsanitary conditions, making them dangerous to consumer health. Shrimp and crab meat were observed by investigators being held at temperatures between 40 and 55 degrees for approximately 18 hours. The seafood is used as an ingredient in the Seafood Gumbo soup.

In addition, inspectors in August cited the company for not properly documenting procedures for stopping bacterial growth, a major cause of seafood spoilage and food-borne illness.

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All meat and seafood should be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees to prevent the growth of pathogens. As the temperature increases, bacteria can multiply and produce enzymes that contribute to food spoilage.

According to the Seafood Network Information Center at the University of California-Davis, shellfish accounts for almost 3% of the cases of food-borne illness in the United States. The most dangerous toxin of fish products held at improper temperatues include scroboid poisoning, which accounts for a third of all fish-related food-borne illness.

A spokesman from Tyson issued a statement regarding the warning. "Contrary to the impression left by the FDA letter, our Fort Worth plant is clean and sanitary and the products produced there are safe to eat.” The company reports that all problems are documentation-related, and there are no safety issues with the actual food products that consumers will eat. The spokesman also states that a USDA inspector is present at the facility on a daily basis to ensure safety.

The company has updated its temperature control plan in response to the letter of warning. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) plan which manages food safety has added a step for documenting the temperature of the seafood at various points of production. In addition, the shrimp and crabmeat that FDA inspectors observed being thawed at the plant was discarded.

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