Milwaukee Food Plant Stops Production Amid Recalls

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Garden-Fresh Foods plant in Milwaukee has halted production and reassigned about 100 employees because of product recalls, the company said Saturday.

Garden-Fresh has recalled tons of products in eight separate recalls since the end of August. The first was announced Aug. 30, after routine sampling of retail products by Michigan food safety officials detected Listeria bacteria.

The recalls include various fresh-cut vegetables and ready-to-eat slaws, dips and spreads, as well as 50 tons of ready-to-eat chicken and ham products that were the subject of a late-October recall. Among the brand names they have been sold under are Garden-Fresh, Grandpa's, Weis, Finest Traditions, Archer Farms, Market Pantry, D'Amico & Sons.

It's unknown how long production will be halted while the company deals with the recalls and the contamination issue, but most employees have been reassigned to other duties at the plant, Garden-Fresh spokeswoman Mary Roberts told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"We are confident that we will be able to find the source of the issue and resume operations," Roberts said. "However, we will not reopen until we are 100 percent satisfied that we can produce and maintain the safest, highest quality products possible."

No illnesses have been linked to the recalled products, but Listeria monocytogenes is a potentially dangerous bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, pregnant women, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Food and Drug Administration inspectors have visited the plant, she said.

"We are working tirelessly to resolve the current issue and will make any changes necessary to ensure we are in compliance with food safety regulations and our own exacting standards for high quality," Roberts said.

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