Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Frozen Corn Recalled for Listeria After Positive Test Result

Another frozen vegetable product is being recalled for Listeria.  In this case, it is frozen corn.  Listeria was found through testing conducted by the State of Tennessee.

In making frozen cut corn, the corn is husked, cut, water blanched followed by immediate cooling, IQF freezing and then packaging.  The water blanch temperature will be greater than 180F, generally 190 to boiling.  Therefore, any Listeria contamination would need to come from the post-blanch environment - from cooling to packaging.

Frozen corn is generally cooked by the consumer before serving, although there may be some RTE applications (although can't think of any).  Therefore, frozen corn would not have been considered a high risk product, so unsure why the State of TN decided to test this item.

Just this week, frozen green beans were recalled due to Listeria.

FDA Recall Notice
Bonduelle USA Recalls Frozen Corn Because Of Possible Health Risk


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 31, 2015 – Brockport, NY – Bonduelle USA Inc. of Brockport, NY is recalling 9,335 cases of frozen corn because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

CDC MMWR - An Increase in Strongyloidiasis Cases in LA

According to CDC's MMWR weekly report, there has been an increase in the number of cases of Strongyloidiasis in LA County, California.  While there were none in 2012, there were 14 cases in 2013 and 29 cases in 2014.

So what the heck is strongyloidiasis?  Just because you wanted to know.......

So, there you are out tending your garden (or whatever they do in LA where one has their hands in the soil), and this little parasitic worm burrows into your skin and then finds its way to your intestines where it creates a never-ending maternity ward for more parasitic worms.  Isn't that a pleasant thought.

Strongyloidiasis is a disease caused by a nematode, or a roundworm, in the genus Strongyloides. While there are a number of species of this roundworm that can infect birds, reptiles and such, Strongyloides stercoralis is the primary species that infects humans. The larvae are only about 1.5mm in length and are found in the soil. "When the larvae come in contact with skin, they are able to penetrate it and migrate through the body, eventually finding their way to the small intestine where they burrow and lay their eggs and these eggs hatch into larvae in the intestine. Most of these larvae will be excreted in the stool, but some of the larvae may molt and immediately re-infect the host either by burrowing into the intestinal wall, or by penetrating the perianal skin. This characteristic of Strongyloides is termed auto-infection. The significance of auto-infection is that unless treated for Strongyloides, persons may remain infected throughout their lifetime."
"The majority of people infected with Strongyloides are without symptoms. Those who do develop symptoms tend to have non-specific, or generalized complaints. Some people develop abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, intermittent episodes of diarrhea and constipation, a dry cough, and rashes. Rarely people will develop arthritis, kidney problems, and heart conditions."

"In the United States, Strongyloides has classically been associated with uniformed-service veterans who returned from tropical regions such as Southeast Asia and the South Pacific during World War II. Small domestic studies have shown locations of infection in rural Appalachia. The highest rates in the United States have been documented in immigrant populations."

Increase in Reports of Strongyloides Infection — Los Angeles County, 2013–2014
August 28, 2015 / 64(33);922-923
Curtis Croker, MPH1; Rosemary She, MD2

During the 1990s, reports of infection with the nematode (roundworm) Strongyloides stercoralis submitted to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) ranged from 40 to 50 per year, but by 2000, reports had decreased to five per year; in 2006, Strongyloides infection was removed from the LACDPH reportable disease list. Currently, it is only reported at the discretion of Los Angeles County clinicians and laboratories as an unusual disease occurrence. LACDPH currently only monitors case counts and does not investigate reported Strongyloides cases. During 2013–2014, an increase in Strongyloides cases occurred, with 43 cases reported.

Bread Recalled After Complaints of Broken Glass

A bread company is recalling loaves of bread after receiving complaints of broken glass on the outside of bread.  The company said the glass is from a broken light bulb.

In today's audit-ready world, having unshielded light bulbs is very uncommon, let alone to have one break in an area where product is exposed.  Being that the complaints state the glass was located on the outside of the loaves, the bulb breaking event would have had to occur after panning somewhere through baking on through to packaging.

Recognizing a bulb had broke in that area, immediate corrective action that would have included putting any product that had the potential for exposure, would have prevented this massive recall.

This is a great learning opportunity to be shared with employees on 1) keeping an eye open for anything that can present a hazard and 2) the importance of taking immediate action.

FDA Recall Notice
Bimbo Bakeries Voluntary Regional Recall of Certain Limited Breads Produced Under the Sara Lee, Great Value, Kroger, Bimbo, Nature’s Harvest and L’Oven Fresh Brands

Contact:   Consumer:  1-800-984-0989

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — August 26, 2015 — HORSHAM, PA — Bimbo Bakeries USA has initiated a voluntary regional recall of certain bread products under the Sara Lee®, Kroger®, Bimbo®, Nature’s Harvest®, Great Value and L’Oven Fresh® brands due to the possible presence of fragments of glass caused by a broken light bulb at one of its bakeries.

Frozen Green Beans, 2014 Pack Date, Recalled for Listeria

An organic frozen vegetable division of General Mills, Cascadian Farms, is recalling 2 lots of frozen cut green beans after a sample of the 18 month old product was found to be positive for Listeria.  There have been no reported illnesses.

There are a number of interesting points to note:
  • The product was produced close to 18 months earlier, so it is curious why the product was just tested now. 
  • Beans would have been blanched, so it is likely this is a case of post-process contamination....either occurring during initial bulk packing or repacking.
  • The beans would have been from the 2013 harvest and frozen in bulk until repacked or the product was imported from another country...so there would be a lot of handling.
  • This type of product would likely be cooked by the consumer.  The label would have instructions for cooking and provided those instructions were followed, then Listeria would be eliminated.
  • Now that product from this facility was found to be positive for Listeria, will additional product be tested, including more recent product (if it hasn't been so already) and will there be a surge of attention brought to this facility (as well as other facilities that pack similar product).
  • Frozen vegetables were also recalled in April after the facility had Listeria positive results for environmental samples. 
General Mills News Release
Aug 26, 2015
General Mills voluntarily recalls a limited quantity of frozen Cascadian Farm Cut Green Beans
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - General Mills today announced a voluntary Class I recall of a limited quantity of frozen Cascadian Farm Cut Green Beans produced over two days in March 2014. The recall is being issued as a precaution after one package of finished product tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. No related illnesses have been reported in connection with this product.
This voluntary recall is limited to 10-ounce bags of frozen Cascadian Farm Cut Green Beans with either of two “Better If Used By” dates printed on the package:
The recalled product was produced and packaged in 2014. No other varieties or production dates of Cascadian Farm products are affected by this recall.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Company Violates Federal Labeling Law for Mayo with No Egg

A small California company was producing a product that violated federal labeling standards.  The label used on their plant based product, 'Just Mayo', used the term mayo.  However, mayo is shorthand for mayonnaise, which is a egg based product.  Just Mayo has no egg. 

It is always interesting to read about the company in the hope to get a glimpse of how these mistakes can be made.  In the Business Day piece (below), they linked a Business Insider article that was written about the company and its owner.  A very unflattering picture of a company that appears more of a techno-business people than people I would want producing my food.  To be fair, the owner had written a response to the Business Insider piece, but still, it provides a picture.

Business Day
Just Mayo Spread Violates Mayonnaise and Label Rules, F.D.A. Says


The Food and Drug Administration has told Hampton Creek, a tiny company selling plant-based replacements for proteins derived from animals, that some of its Just Mayo products violate federal regulations related to standards for mayonnaise and proper labeling.

In a letter dated Aug. 12, the agency wrote that even the term “mayo” in the brand name and the logo, a minimalist egg “cracked” by a pea shoot, “may be misleading to consumers” by implying there are eggs in the products.

Farmers' Market Food Processor Cited for Improper Processing

Consumers in Michigan are being asked to check their farmers' market purchases for jars of food that may have been improperly processed.

Farmers' Markets can be considered the wild west for food processing.   Because of the ease of entry into this food sales channel, many want-to-be food processors can introduce most any concoction they dream up.  Luckily, as in this case, regulators are patrolling the sales tents and tailgates that populate the ever increasing number of farmers' markets.

It is one thing to sell the raw agricultural commodities, the anchor products for farmers' markets, but when people start to process and sell foods, there are additional regulatory requirements that must be met.   These requirements, such as licensure and certifications, help to ensure that budding processors are producing safe food.  Unfortunately, too many do not know the regulations, and more importantly, the principles and practices that these regulations require.

In this case, there is a reason why measure the pH during the acidification of a food.  If a food is not properly acidified, then the potential exists for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the causative agent of botulism poisoning.  An issue in achieving proper acidification not only affects the consumer, but also the owner / operator that is selling the product who can be subject to a lawsuit.  So the rules protect the consumer as well as the seller.

Those shopping at farmers' markets would be wise to make sure the foods hey purchase were processed in a licensed/inspected facility.

 Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Release
Consumer Advisory: Consumers Warned to Not Consume Brandy & Dutch Weigand Products Due to Potential Health Risk
Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

Turkey Bacon Recalled Due to Complaints on Spoilage

 Kraft Heinz is recalling Oscar Meyer turkey bacon after an investigation of consumer complaints about spoilage.  This was classified as a Class 2 recall since there is a low likelihood of illness.
USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
 Kraft Heinz Foods Company Recalls Turkey Bacon Products Due To Possible Adulteration
Class II Recall 113-2015
Health Risk: Low Aug 25, 2015 
Congressional and Public Affairs Benjamin Bell (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, August 25, 2015 – Kraft Heinz Foods Company, a Newberry, S.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,068,467 pounds of turkey bacon products that may be adulterated because it may spoil before the “Best When Used By” date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.