Eight employees of the State Hygienic Lab (SHL) will be recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their collaborative work with state and federal agencies to protect public health in a 2018 incident involving frozen vegetable products manufactured under unsanitary conditions.

State Hygienic Lab

The SHL awardees are Nancy Hall, Julie Wilson, Lucas Latimer, Rebecca Teske, Greg Gingerich, Cathy Lord, Kathy Hebbeln, and Gary Moet from the Central Accessioning, Clinical Microbiology and Environmental Microbiology sections.

“Their quick actions prevented adulterated food from reaching vulnerable populations, such as the children and elderly, and thus prevented foodborne illness in Iowa,” said Michael Pentella, director of the State Hygienic Lab.

The group recognition award from the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) will be presented to the SHL staff and their collaborators at the United States Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Services (USDA FNS), FDA, Center for Food and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Human and Animal Food West Division II (HAFW2), and Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (IDIA).

“Together, the team demonstrated outstanding collaboration and fostered inter-agency, state and federal partnerships to evoke swift action when it was discovered that frozen vegetable products were manufactured under unsanitary conditions and shipped to highly susceptible populations,” said Kathleen Close, consumer safety officer at the FDA ORA. “Facilities who received adulterated product included a state public school commissary, hospitals and nursing homes.”

SHL worked closely with IDIA to provide consultation, and test food and environmental samples. As a result of the team’s collaborative actions, the FDA issued a recall and the state suspended the facility’s operations.

The group recognition award will be presented at the ORA Honor Awards Ceremony on August 13, 2019, in Silver Spring, MD.