Dept. of Justice Indicts Owner of Food Facility who Knowingly Distributed Cheese Contaminated with Listeria

block of cheeseWe place a great deal of trust in our food safety system. We trust that the individuals who harvest, package, prepare, and serve our food are using reasonable care to ensure that the food is handled and stored in a manner that reduces the chances for contamination to occur. Although this system works in most cases, there are some unfortunate instances in which individuals take advantage of the system and put consumers at risk.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently reported that a resident in Miami-Dade County was sentenced to almost one-and-a-half years in prison for knowingly distributing contaminated cheese. The defendant, Christian Rivas, owns a food business based in Miami called Oasis Brands, Inc. According to Count I of the indictment, the defendant engaged in intentional fraud when he delivered a packaged cheese product packaged at the facility that contained listeria. This is an incredibly harmful food contaminant that can lead to serious health consequences, sometimes requiring hospitalization and even leading to death on some occasions.

According to documents filed in the court proceeding, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received an alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, indicating that cheese provided by the defendant’s company was randomly sampled on July 26, 2015, and tested positive for listeria. The FDA then conducted an inspection of the facility, which revealed several violations of good manufacturing practices. Numerous environmental swab samples from the premises also tested positive for listeria.

Following this inspection, the defendant agreed to take a number of steps to remedy the contamination and to ensure the safety of food products manufactured at the facility. One of the things he agreed to do was to cease distributing finished food products in the existing inventory. The FDA continued to conduct routine follow-up inspections. It became evident after the first inspection that the defendant was not in compliance. The FDA concluded that the facility continued to package several trays of cheese that had been subject to a hold by the FDA until the matter was resolved.

If you have been injured as a result of consuming contaminated food, you can bring a negligence action and a product liability action against the parties who prepared, packaged, and handled the food item. In the event the defendant intentionally provided contaminated food to a consumer, the plaintiff can also seek punitive damages, which seek to punish a defendant for intentional and reckless conduct while dissuading others from engaging in similar conduct.

At Moll Law Group, we have handled many food contamination cases for victims across the United States, including in Illinois, Texas, Florida, and New York. Our team of knowledgeable lawyers will provide you with the dedicated, personalized, and diligent legal counsel that you deserve. Food contamination cases can be complicated when it comes to linking your illness and injuries to the specific food that was contaminated. We will guide you through every step of the process and ensure that your rights are protected along the way. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online.

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