Monday, January 15, 2018

CDC and FDA Hold Off from Implicating Romaine Lettuce in E. coli Outbreak

FDA and CDC did not pull the trigger on making a public notice to avoid romaine lettuce for involvement in an E. coli outbreak.   The Canadians were first to issue a public notice implicating Romaine lettuce on Dec 14th.  At this point, however, there were no additional cases of E. coli infection reported with the last case on December 12th being reported (and recognizing there is a delay from infection and reporting).

In the end, that call was right.  Even if it is found that romaine lettuce was the source, that contaminated product would had already been through the system (considering the short shelf-life of product).  A public notice would have been missed the target and resulted in needless waste.

However, what we did see was a lot of confusion on the part of various entities issuing reactionary notices.  FDA and CDC would have done better to put their findings out there earlier.  Outbreak investigations are not perfect, and while it would have been easier on their part to trash the leafy green industry, relaying the findings would have gone a long way to quieting the alarmists.
FDA Information about E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Likely Linked to Leafy Greens
January 10, 2018

This Week in Mislabeled Product - Ending Jan 13, 2018

Juice Products May Contain Milk Protein - Hiland Dairy is announcing a voluntary recall of two products produced at the Omaha, Nebraska facility, over concerns the products may contain milk protein that could affect those individuals that have sensitivity to milk allergens.  Hiland Dairy initially learned of a potential issue during internal quality control testing at the Omaha facility.

Tofu Product Does Not Declare Soy on Label - Rico Brand of Salt Lake City, Utah is recalling Tofu Breakfast Burrito, because it may contain undeclared Soy [And tofu is fermented soy, so must realize that some consumers may not recognize that fact?].  The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the product “Tofu Breakfast Burrito” containing Soybean was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of Soybean. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company's packaging processes.

Supplier Mistakenly Labels Coconut Macaroons as Oatmeal Cookies -  Dollar General Corporation announced a voluntary recall of a lot of its 12-ounce packages of Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies  over concerns of undeclared milk and tree nuts.  Dollar General initially learned of a potential issue based upon information received from a store level employee. The Company promptly contacted the product’s manufacturer who confirmed a production facility labeling error in which Clover Valley® Coconut Macaroons were inadvertently placed in Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookie packaging.

Hiland Dairy Announces Voluntary Recall Of Hiland Dairy Orange Juice And Tampico Citrus Punch
For Immediate Release
January 13, 2018

Frozen Novelty Recall Expanded and Revised

recall of frozen orange cream bars initially posted on 1/5/18 has been expanded on 1/9/18 and then clarified on 1/11/18 to include all //product produced on one production line at one of the company's facility due to the potential for Listeria contamination. The recall now includes chocolate covered vanilla bars in addition to the orange cream bars, as well as raspberry cream bars sold in split cases.  The recall covers close to 30 different brands.
"The potential for contamination was noted after routine industry testing revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in only a few ice cream bar samples of many tested. The expansion of the recall is out of precaution for consumer health and food safety after a few additional samples tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. There is no evidence of any contamination prior to October 31, 2017, but the company has issued the recall back to January 1, 2017 through an abundance of caution and in full cooperation with the FDA."
The Recall Notice goes on to state:
"The company has suspended production and distribution of all products produced on this production line while it cooperates with the FDA to fully investigate the source of the problem."
Which would indicate that they do not yet know what the problem was...and being they don't know the source, the recall was expanded.
Fieldbrook Foods Corporation Clarifies Scope of its Voluntary Recall. Products Include Orange Cream
For Immediate Release
January 11, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sushi Recalled by Grocery Chain After Supplier has Potential Listeria Contamination Issues

Price Chopper, a northeast-based supermarket chain is recalling sushi product produced by AFC Franchise Corp due to the potential to be contaminated by Listeria.  There was no information on which item was involved, but being that two stores from different states had suspect product, it is more likely an ingredient issue than a store issue.

AFC franchises sushi bars that are often located in supermarkets.  AFC provides the know-how and materials to allow a franchisee to operate a sales space in a grocery store.  AFC had a recall early this past year for packages of edamame due to Listeria.

Many of the ingredients used in making sushi have the sufficient nutrients and are stored under conditions that allow the growth of Listeria.   Once the product is made and packaged in the store, there is always the risk of consumer mishandling, in this case, storing at elevated temperatures.  This would exacerbate the situation by allowing more growth.
Price Chopper recalls packaged sushi made with tuna
By David Hermanovitch
Posted: Jan 09, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Trend - Drinking 'Raw Water'

There is a new trend...'raw water'...water that is unfiltered, untreated spring water. A article in the New York Times, Unfiltered Fervor: The Rush to Get Off the Water Grid discusses a Oregon operation, Live Water, is selling water for $14.99/bottle refill while a San Diego operation sells their version for $2.50/gallon.
"The quest for pure water is hardly new; people have been drinking from natural springs and collecting rainwater from time immemorial. The crusade against adding fluoride to public water began in the 1950s among Americans who saw danger in the protective measures that had been adopted over decades to protect the populace from disease and contamination.  But the off-grid water movement has become more than the fringe phenomenon it once was, with sophisticated marketing, cultural cachet, millions of dollars in funding and influential supporters from Silicon Valley."
One can also purchase water collection systems that capture moisture from the air.

From a safety perspective, without treating water, one opens themselves to increased risk to a host of  microbial pathogens including bacteria and parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, .  Beyond that, people across globe do not have access to clean water and would prefer avoid drinking 'raw' water.  The article below, from National Review, sums that up pretty well.

National Review
‘Raw Water’ Makes a Mockery of Human Suffering
Read more at:
by Jibran Khan January 8, 2018 1:05 PM

It’s a play-act of poverty that puts ‘slum tourism’ to shame. Every few months, there’s a new trend that promises life-changing health benefits — a spice, or a juice, or another mundane consumable, often with an Indian or East Asian name thrown in to make it seem ancient and exotic. We see these things, laugh, and move on with our lives. We live and let live.

Orange Cream Bars Recalled After Lot Tests Positive for Listeria

A NY firm is recalling 340 cases  of orange cream bars due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.  This comes after the company's routine testing revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in another production lot that had been fully contained.

Unfortunately, in these cases where Listeria is found in product, the recall often is expanded unless the company can clearly demonstrate that Listeria control had been maintained over time with some plausible exception for the lot that tested positive.

FDA Recall Notice
Fieldbrook Foods Corporation, Announces a Voluntary Recall of Orange Cream Bars for Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
January 5, 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018

FDA Recalls Too Slow? Is Romaine Lettuce the Source of an E. coli Outbreak? A Food Safety Vortex

Last week, the US Inspector General issued a report that criticized the FDA for not moving quickly enough to recall foods.  At the same time, an E. coli outbreak has caused illness in 17 people in the US.  While Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the causative agent in E. coli cases that occurred there, the CDC and FDA have not followed the Canadians in blaming romaine lettuce.  Of course, the US agencies have been criticized  for this and Consumer Reports has issued a news release stating the consumers avoid romaine lettuce for now.

As romaine lettuce is being pulled from the store shelves (which, if considering the short shelf-life and the time frame of the outbreak, will not amount to much), we look back at the 2008 Salmonella outbreak where tomatoes were falsely accused, and can see why the federal agencies are acting in a judicious manner.  I guess we don't expect the federal agencies to have the correct answer immediately, especially considering the tediousness of conducting an outbreak investigation, but I do agree with others saying that the agencies should be providing more information about that investigation.  Not only will it let people decide for themselves (rather than having the Canadians decide for us), but will help inform all of us of the difficulties that are entailed in an outbreak investigation.

For the consumer, there is a lot of confusion.  If you have romaine lettuce in your refrigerator, do you return it?

USA Today
 Why is FDA so slow on food recalls?
The Editorial Board, USA TODAY
Published 5:54 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018 | Updated 6:59 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018

This Week in Mislabeled Product for Week Ending 1/5/18

Ice Bars Recalled After Reported Complaint for Allergic Reaction - California Popsicle, Inc. dba Polly Ann Ice Cream of South San Francisco, CA is recalling ice bars, because it may contain undeclared milk.  The recall was initiated after notification by FDA of a consumer complaint in Canada.

Instant Coffee Mix Missing Milk on Label - Hong Lee Trading Inc., NY, is recalling its CHAO CAFÉ VIETNAMESE INSTANT COFFEE MIXED 3 IN 1, 384 GRAM, CONTAINER CODE JUNE 06 2018, because they contain undeclared milk allergens.  The recall was initiated after routine sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and subsequent analysis by Food Laboratory personnel revealed the presence of milk allergens in the packages [of product] which did not declare a milk ingredient on the label.

Veggie Cups labeled as Fruit Cups - Condies Foods of Kearns, UT is recalling 166 cases of veggies cups because they were labeled as fruit cups.  The veggie cups had dressing  which was not on the fruit cup label so there is a possibility that this may contain undeclared milk and egg allergens. After getting an initial complaint from a customer about the label not matching the description of the product, after seeing the pictures from the email it was decided to initiate a voluntary recall to ensure that our public would not get further exposure to an erroneous product.

Eggs Left Off Label - New Seasons Market has initiated a voluntary recall of its New Seasons Market Grab and Go pre-packaged Macaroni and Cheese because it may contain undeclared egg. An employee noticed the mislabeled packages during a routine stock rotation check. New Seasons Market Macaroni and Cheese normally contains eggs, but eggs were accidentally left off the ingredients list and the “contains” allergens statement on the label.

Milk Not Declared on Label - Daisy’s Bakery Inc. of Clifton, New Jersey is recalling 4 ounce packages of Gourmet Concha, because it may contain undeclared milk. The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the milk containing product was distributed with a label that did not reveal the presence of milk. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company’s production and packaging processes.

Soy Found In Product - PFP Enterprises LLC, also doing business as Texas Meat Packers, a Fort Worth, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 7,570 pounds of ground beef products due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen, soy, which is not declared on the product label. The problem was discovered when FSIS received a complaint from a school about the product’s packaging. FSIS laboratory testing confirmed that the product contained soy and added water.
California Popsicle, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in Ice Bars
For Immediate Release
January 3, 2018
Consumers  650-745-809

Recall Issued for Shredded Coconut After State Lab Test Positive for Salmonella

Evershing International Trading Company is recalling 16 ounces Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.  The issue was discovered by testing performed by the State of Massachusetts.
Evershing International Trading Company Recalls Frozen Shredded Coconut Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
January 3, 2018