December 8, 2019

Penn Dutch Margate, Florida Store Closed For Endangering Public Health

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Commissioner Nicole Fried issued an Immediate Final Order to Penn Dutch Meat & Seafood Market, ordering that they immediately cease operations and close their Margate store. This order was issued after Penn Dutch “violated multiple stop-use and stop-sale orders and endangered public health by possibly distributing food products contaminated with Listeria pathogens,” according to the press release.

Penn Dutch Margate, Florida Store Closed For Endangering Public Health

Fried said in a statement, “As with any Department inspection process, Penn Dutch was provided an opportunity to remedy the situation by disposing of possibly dangerous contaminated products and sanitizing tools and workspaces. It’s unfortunate that Penn Dutch chose to disregard our directives and endanger public safety. Moving equipment, products, and people in and out of the Listeria monocytogenes positive areas increases the potential for the spread of pathogens, and exposes Penn Dutch’s customers and employees to a pathogenic bacteria capable of creating a serious health risk. As the state’s consumer watchdog, our Department takes potential foodborne illness extremely seriously, and the Listeria bacteria has a 20 percent mortality rate.”

Since February 2019, the Health Department conformed multiple samples of Listeria monocytogenes at both Penn Dutch locations in Margate and Hollywood, Florida. Penn Dutch remedied the issue at that time and resumed operations. But on September 9, 2019, officials collected 110 environmental samples in different areas of the Margate Store. Thirteen of those samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The positive test samples were from the deli area; deli slicing room; special cuts room; seafood display; seafood cutting area; ready cooler; tray wash hallway; chicken production room; and future room. This includes cutting boards, seafood display trays, and slicers. Once Listeria is established in a facility, it is very difficult to eradicate.

Stop Use Orders were issued on September 18, 2019. A visit to the Margate store found that many of the Orders had been violated. And Penn Dutch posted on its Facebook page that “Until Further Notice our Margate Location will be open every day from 9 am – 5 pm.”

The Department’s Director of the Division of Food Safety, Dr. Matthew Curran, has determined that the continued operation of Penn Dutch’s Margate store “presents an immediate danger to public health, safety, and welfare.”

He added that “If Listeria monocytogenes is present in a room, it’s nearly impossible to sample every square inch and identify all of the locations the pathogens could have spread to — pathogens are living organisms and are transferrable and mobile. To be safe and protect public health, it is necessary and reasonable to quarantine every possible location pathogens are likely to be present.”

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