The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking to permanently shut down a cheese factory in Queens, after the plant failed to clean up its act.
FDA officials filed a lawsuit against Mexicali Cheese to shut down until the plant complies with food safety regulations, citing that the factory had potentially deadly bacteria and had failed to correct repeated health violations.
Over 30 inspections over the past three years have turned up a long list of violations, including equipment covered in harmful bacteria; flies; maggots and mold in production areas; stagnant pools of dirty water on the floor; and rodent feces in the supply rooms.
Inspectors also found staphylococcal bacteria, which can cause a staph infection, in samples of the cheese, as well as listeria, which can be deadly to pregnant women and their fetuses and for people with compromised immune systems.
The agency has no reported cases of illness caused by Mexicali cheese, though.
In August 2010, the New York Department of Agriculture warned consumers against by the cheese because of a possible Staphylococcus aureus contamination.
In October of that year, the FDA issued a warning letter to the company, saying that Mexicali should take prompt action to correct its violation or prepare to face other regulatory actions.
The defendants - chief executive Edionson Vegara and manager Claudia Marin - have not yet commented on the lawsuit or conditions of the factories.