The FDA says that executives of both Lifeway and subsidiary LFI Enterprises last week agreed to cease production of cream cheese and seafood at their respective Illinois and Pennsylvania-based sites until they comply fully with its safety standards. Lifeway is permitted to continue to produce its other dairy products like kefir, Farmers' cheese, and spreadable cheese unhindered as part of the consent decree signed by company executives Julie and Edward Smolyansky, the FDA said. Margaret Glavin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, claimed that the closures were a response to a string of allegations over the company's practices dating back to 2004. "We simply can't allow companies to put the public's health at risk by not having adequate procedures and plans to produce safe food and proper labelling," she stated. "We will work to take action against companies and their executives that violate the law." Allegations According to the FDA, between the two operations, a number of alleged concerns were raised regarding the processing and packaging for certain goods, including:
Labelling and then distributing cream cheese products that failed to specify the presence of any major food allergens, transfat levels and other ingredients.
Processing seafoods like whitefish salad, ground nova salmon, and lox cream cheese and lox cream cheese spreads without complying to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans.
Failure to document sanitation monitoring at the site for clean surface treatment and cross contamination prevention.
Return to production Under the terms of the decree signed by Lifeway Foods, processing at the two plants for the group's cream cheese and seafood-based products can only recommence after defendants are found by the FDA to be in full compliance with its food safety standards. LFI Enterprises must also work with a seafood-processing expert to define a new HACCP plan to help prevent possible product contamination at factory level, ordered the FDA. A spokesperson for Lifeway Foods was not available for comment at the time of publication.