Delaware’s decision not to inspect cheese producers like Roos Foods in Kenton allowed the plant’s cheese operation to run with infrequent oversight before it was shut down in the wake of a deadly listeria infection outbreak.
Jeff Montgomery of Delaware online writes that unlike Maryland and other states, Delaware never sought expanded food safety inspection powers that would have led to state inspectors regularly checking the Roos cheese plant for safe and healthy operation. Instead, state rules kept blinders on local inspectors who made quarterly sanitation and compliance checks in a separate section where sour cream was produced in the same plant building that sent cheese to 10 eastern states as well as Texas and California.
The split oversight sheltered Roos Foods’ deteriorating cheese plant from more-frequent inspections, with federal inspectors visiting only three times in five years. The last regular federal inspection, in June 2013, turned up pooled water, sanitation failures and other problems.
The issue came to light earlier this month, when the Food and Drug Administration suspended Roos Foods’ approval to sell its products after one person died and seven others were sicked by listeria in cheese from Kenton.