(CNN) — The company that inspected a Colorado cantaloupe farm at the center of a deadly listeriosis outbreak ignored federal regulators’ “best and most timely” advice on processing produce, a congressional committee has found.
The FDA cited “serious design flaws” and a “lack of awareness” of safety standards at Jensen Farms as the likely sources of the bacterial contamination behind the deaths. But in a report issued this week, congressional investigators found the company that conducted a July safety audit at the farm, Bio Food Safety, gave it near-perfect marks despite finding three “major deficiencies.”
In particular, it noted that the company washed its cantaloupe in water that was not treated with chlorine or any other anti-bacterial additive — a process the FDA said was inconsistent with its recommendations and “a probable cause of the contamination.” The inspector did not take points off for the finding, the report states.
“The guidance which Bio Food Safety did not consider in its audit represents the agency’s best and most timely advice on how processing should be handled,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee concluded in its bipartisan report.