Frozen crab seized due to food safety concerns

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: FDA/Flickr
Picture: FDA/Flickr

Related tags Food safety Seafood Fda

US Marshals have seized about 5,000 cases of ready-to-eat frozen Jonah crab products processed by Rome Packing due to food safety concerns.

The government alleged that Rome, formerly based in East Providence, prepared, packed, and processed Jonah crab products in a facility contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. However, no illnesses were reported.

Rome Packing Company Inc. is now in receivership, according to the court documents.

The US Marshal’s Service seized the crab products from cold storage warehouses in Lakeville, Massachusetts, which were being monitored by FDA officials.

Inspection findings

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected Rome’s facility six times and found the cooking process for crabs did not adequately control temperatures to prevent growth of pathogens. 

Environmental swab samples from three areas of Rome’s facility allegedly tested positive for L. monocytogenes. 

The inspection also revealed poor sanitary practices and conditions that may cause cross-contamination between finished and raw food products.

Rome Packing issued a recall of Ocean’s Catch brand All Natural Jonah Crab Leg Meat after product sampling determined some may be contaminated with L. monocytogenes in October last year.

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said: “Lax sanitary practices in the preparation and storage of food products endanger public health. Where necessary we will intervene to prevent contaminated food from reaching consumers.” 

US Marshal John Gibbons of the District of Massachusetts said: "Preparing and processing tainted food products for sale to consumers is unacceptable and the US Marshals Service will do its part in protecting our nation's consumers.”

Use of WGS

The FDA used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to link the samples collected in the facility.

Melinda Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said it had to intervene and seize the adulterated food to prevent it from reaching consumers.

“The FDA made several efforts to help Rome Packing correct processes, but the company failed to take adequate corrective measures​.

“Thanks to the collaboration between the FDA and the Department of Justice, we have ensured that the adulterated crab produced by Rome Packing doesn’t make its way to consumers.”

Clostridium botulinum

Meanwhile, there has been a spate of recalls due to Clostridium botulinum concerns in fish as it could have been under-processed.

skipanon brand
Skipanon Brand Seafoods

Skipanon Brand Seafoods recalled all lots and sizes of all its brand seafoods canned products on October 9.

The problem was discovered during an inspection at Skipanon Brand Seafoods by the FDA whch found a lack of documentation.

The following firms are involved: The Garibaldi Cannery, Ecola Seafoods, Pacific Seafood, Birgham Fish Market, Northwest Wild Products, Spot on and Vis Seafoods as Skipanon Brand Seafoods made products for them.

There have been no reported cases of illness. The last date of distribution is September.

Products were distributed to wholesalers and retailers in Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington and sold to internet customers nationwide. 

Affected production codes include any starting with "OC" and the code can be found at the bottom or on top of the can. Products are packaged in metal cans with net weights ranging from 5.5 oz. to 66.5 oz.

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