Our law firm is investigating an outbreak of Listeria infections (listeriosis) linked to products made by SM Fish Corporation (“SM Fish”) of Far Rockaway, New York. The FDA suspended the food facility registration of SM Fish  after finding Listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous bacterial pathogen, at that location during three different inspections. Genetic testing called whole genome sequencing (WGS) matched one of the strains found at SM Fish to isolates from four people sickened with listeriosis.

Listeria Bacteria Cause Listeriosis

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Evidence collected at the SM Fish Corp. facility (located at 50-01 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Far Rockaway, New York 11691) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of the suspension include:

  • environmental samples analyzed by the FDA and
  • observations made by the FDA during a facility inspection.

With this evidence FDA established the following (from the FDA Suspension Letter):

  1. Ready-to-eat (RTE) food products including herring in oil; pickled herring products packed in flavored sauce; pickled lox in flavored sauce;and tuna and seafood (imitation crab meat) salads that are manufactured, processed, packed, received or held by SM Fish Corp. are at risk for contamination with Listeria monocytogenes [“Listeria“] based on the conditions in the SM Fish Corp. facility.
  2. The detection of Listeria isolates in the SM Fish Corp. facility shows the widespread and persistent nature of Listeria contamination in the facility.
  3. Due to this contamination, FDA has determined that SM Fish Corp. products have a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death in humans due to Listeria contamination.
  4. The SM Fish Corp. facility created, caused, or was otherwise responsible for this reasonable probability. Specifically, FDA has determined that the conditions within the facility (e.g., the presence of Listeria in various locations throughout the facility and current good manufacturing practice violations that could lead to contamination of SM Fish Corp. RTE food products) caused this reasonable probability.

Listeria Found in SM Fish Corp. Facility in Far Rockaway, New York

During an FDA inspection ending September 9, 2016, FDA collected environmental samples from the kitchen, fish processing room, herring room, cheese slicing room and the ice maker. FDA analytical testing of those samples found 12 swabs that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. These 12 swabs had been taken from various areas of the facility, including on the inner surface of a mixing bowl that contacts food.

Two previous FDA inspections (ending on July 6, 2016, and on May 8, 2015) had also found Listeria monocytogenes in multiple areas of the facility.

Whole Genome Sequencing

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was conducted on the Listeria isolates found in the environmental samples collected during the three recent FDA inspections (ending on September 9, 2016, July 6, 2016, and May 8, 2015) of the SM Fish Corp. facility in Far Rockaway, New York. WGS is genetic testing that provides data on bacterial isolates that can directly link them to food or environmental sources of bacterial contamination and illness.

The FDA’s analysis of the WGS data found “at least seven (7) different strains of Listeria monocytogenes” present in the facility. One of these strains, found during all three inspections is “genetically identical to one (1) strain that is a genetic match for the pathogen found in four (4) listeriosis clinical illnesses” (FDA Suspension Letter).

This means SM Fish Corp. products were the likely source of those illnesses.

Fish Product Recall

In July of 2016, SM Fish Corp. of Far Rockaway, NY, recalled certain OSSIE’S brand ready-to-eat herring salads. On September 16, 2016, the company recalled certain seafood salads. Now FDA has used its authority granted under the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to suspend the food facility registration of SM Fish Corp. of Far Rockaway, NY, “because food, including ready-to-eat (RTE) food, from this facility may be contaminated with L. monocytogenes (Listeria).”

If you have any ready-to-eat food products manufactured by SM Fish Corp. you should not eat them. The products were sold at the company’s seven retail outlets located in New York and New Jersey.

Lawsuit for Compensation and Justice

Our law firm helps people sickened by contaminated food. A Listeria lawsuit should seek compensation for medical expenses, cost of care, pain and suffering, lost income and other money damages.  Listeria can cause severe illness and wrongful death. Any company that sells food laces with poisonous bacteria should be held accountable. Our Listeria lawyers have experience doing that.