The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection of the manufacturing site in Colonial Heights, Virginia found 27 swabs of the processing environment that contained L. monocytogenes.
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) revealed one of the strains found during the October inspection matches a strain found in a retail product sample in 2015, indicating it may be persistent in the production environment.
Nine environmental samples from food processing areas in the facility were positive for L. monocytogenes.
The FDA informed Sabra last week that an additional 18 environmental samples collected near food handling equipment were confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes.
Testing from production line every two minutes
Sabra recalled hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria at the manufacturing site but not in product distributed to retailers.
Products made prior to November 8 were distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts and supermarkets, in the US and Canada.
Shali Shalit Shoval, CEO, said procedures include finished product testing and there had been no positive results.
“We have invested heavily in technology and enhancing our processes and protocols, with guidance and input from external experts, to develop and put in place industry-leading food safety procedures, such as testing finished product from the production line every two minutes for pathogens including Listeria.
“The FDA and the food industry continue to advance standards and procedures to improve food safety protocols nationwide. In the past, the standard for recalls has been confirmation of a contaminant on actual finished product.
“In elevating their standards, FDA is expanding their criteria for recalls to include presence of contaminants in the general environment.”
Shoval added it has implemented a factory-wide cleaning and sanitation procedure and continues to work with internal and external experts to identify additional steps that can be taken.
Sabra Organic Hummus and Sabra Guacamole, Sabra Salsa, Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips are not included in the recall.
Any product with a “Best Before” date up to and including January 23, 2017 should be discarded. The “Best Before” date can be found on the lid of each package.
Sabra Dipping Co recalled 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes in April last year.
The issue was discovered when a routine, random sample from a retail location in March by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, tested positive for the pathogen.
Sabra Canada also issued a national recall at retail level, affected products can be found here.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said action was triggered by the US recall.
It is investigating which may lead to the recall of other products but there have been no reported illnesses.
Kraft Heinz Canada fish suspension
Meanwhile, the agency has suspended the fish import licence of Kraft Heinz Canada of Toronto.
The licence was suspended because the company failed to notify the CFIA of fish imports within 48 hours of arrival. It may not import fish into Canada while its licence is suspended.
An appeal can be requested within 60 days of suspension and must contain a written corrective action plan.
Kraft Heinz said it hopes to have the issue resolved soon but did not make it clear if consumers would be impacted.
"Kraft Heinz Canada’s goal is to always obey the spirit and intent of all laws and regulations which we are subject to. This incident occurred in large part because of changes to our border and customs practices as we integrated our Kraft and Heinz businesses."
Also, CFIA is seeking feedback on a draft Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) policy to cover all food, plant health and animal health sectors by December 18.
AMPs are used when someone or a company does not comply with food safety rules and protect the health of plants and animals.
AMPs may be issued with or without a financial penalty, and are used when letters of non-compliance are not a sufficient response but where prosecution is not considered appropriate.
Currently they may be issued when a party does not comply with certain federal requirements regarding plant health, animal health and meat inspection.