The FDA announced yesterday that U.S. Marshals seized more than 4,000,000 pounds of dried milk products made by Valley Milk Products LLC of Strasburg, Virginia. The company is owned by the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association in Reston, Virginia. The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint, on behalf of the FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Virginia Western District, alleging that the seized products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The products that were seized include dry nonfat milk powder and buttermilk powder. They were packaged in 40 and 50 pound bags for further manufacturing and were worth nearly $4 million.
The FDA inspected the facility from July to September 2016 and found poor sanitary practices. The company’s records showed positive results for Salmonella bacteria in the plant’s internal environment and finished product samples.
FDA inspectors observed residues on internal parts of the processing equipment after it had been cleaned, and also saw water dripping from the ceiling onto food manufacturing equipment. Environmental swabs collected at the facility confirmed the presence of Salmonella meleagridis on surfaces the food came into contact with after it was pasteurized.
Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement, “the FDA urged Valley Milk to conduct a voluntary recall of the implicated products. The firm refused to recall and, as a result, we have had to intervene and seize this adulterated food to prevent it from reaching consumers who could be exposed to Salmonella from these products.”
Whole genome sequencing linked the samples collected in the facility over time. The results indicated that the Salmonella strains from 2016 were nearly identical to Salmonella found at the facility in 2010, 2011, and 2013. This demonstrates the existence of a “persistent strain of Salmonella” at that facility.
Valley Milk is not producing dry powdered milk products anymore. No illnesses linked to that company’s products have been reported to date.