Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Impact of FSMA on Recalls through Improved Prerequisite Programs

It is amazing to see the number of recalls that are issued each week. I put put together the listing of the recalls that occurred within the last week (Dec 6 to 12, 2012).  There are a range of items, most, if not all, related to prerequisite program issues (allergen control and labeling, supplier/ingredient control, environmental control).

In an article written by David Acheson, http://leavittpartnersblog.com/20113304/david-acheson/fda%E2%80%99s-views-on-preventive-control-requirements-beginning-to-emerge-time-to-go-beyond-haccp, he provides a view of FDA official comments, specifically that FSMA will go beyond HACCP. He suggests that FDA will put in more specific guidance to address key elements of food safety programs,  pointing out that environmental monitoring and training will be two highlighted areas.  Looking at the recalls we are seeing, it is hard to argue that prerequisite programs have become the primary issue with regard to outbreaks and recalls.  Companies should begin looking at all programs that are responsible for controlling hazards to ensure they address monitoring, corrective actions, and verification.

While some will bristle at additional requirements, the cost of conducting a recall due to lack of control is worth the effort for improving low risk hazards are controlled.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is your Organic considered Authentic Organic?

Large companies continue to move into the growing organic marketplace, often through the purchase of small organic companies, in order to capitalize on the growing demand of organic-buying consumers, but to also capture larger margins associated with organic.  There are organic watchdog groups, such as Cornucopia Institute, defining what is true organic , or ‘authentic organic’ and which brands meet that definition, and those that don’t (‘Greenwashers’).  According to this group, brands such as Kashi and Hain Celestial are practically the same as their non-organic counterparts.

For dairy, they have issued an Organic Dairy Ratings (cow star ratings…the more cows, the more ‘organic’).
http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html

Cornucopia also has an extensive report on cereal products
http://cornucopia.org/cereal-scorecard/docs/Cornucopia_Cereal_Report.pdf

I personally do not buy organic, or better stated, do not pay more for an item because it is organic, so I find this concept of ‘authentic organic’ interesting.  Large corporations push the boundaries of organic to make it more available, but in doing so, they have the organic police crying foul.  So, on one side, if you’re are buying a mass produced organic brand, is it really any better than non-organic?  On the other side,  is there that much difference between authentic organic and ‘greenwashed’ products for someone to search out the true organic products?  Clearly, the plight of the mindful organic consumer is not an easy one.
Source (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/19/mark-kastel-cornucopia-good-food-movement.aspx?e_cid=20111119_DNL_art_1)


Friday, November 18, 2011

Recall of Refrigerated Processed Products with the Potential for C. botulinum

It is interesting to see the same company involved in two recalls due to potential Clostridium botulinum.  In both cases, there were no illnesses, just refrigerated products that were stored at room temperature, creating the favorable growth conditions for C. botulinum.  After a further look, the olive product was first recalled due to the fact that this refrigerated product sat at room temperature for a month.  In addition to the olives, Tabatchinick Yankee Bean Soup was also recalled (this is a frozen soup product which appears to me to be higher risk since the ingredient statement does not have any secondary inhibitors).  According to the report – ‘These items have been recalled due to a lack of temperature control during the distribution process. UNFI inadvertently subjected the recall items to temperature ranges above those directed by the manufacturer. ‘

Three days later, United Natural Foods recalled Black Bean Torillas, also due to lack of refrigeration.  This is a vacuum packed product.  If one had to guess, it was probably discovered during the investigation of the olives.

The related recalls bring attention to the concerns of refrigerated or frozen products that are not properly distributed and stored. 
Issues  
1)    Products look like shelf-stable products, so handlers may not recognize the need for refrigerated storage.
2)    Many ‘natural products’ do not have secondary inhibitors (sorbate, etc).
3)    Vacuum packaged heat processed products (black beans and possibly the soup) provide good growth conditions for C. botulinum.

As the demand increases for prepared, natural food items, we may see more cases like this.

United Natural Foods, Inc. Announces Updated Information For Recall
Related to Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas Due to Possible
Health Risk


Contact:
Consumer:
Lisa Madsen
401-528-8634

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 17, 2011 – United Natural Foods, Inc. today announced a correction to its previously announced recall of selected types of Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas, specifically to correct the previously stated date code of 12 7 11 to the revised date code of 11 6 11. United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling this product dated 11 6 11 because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The following product has been recalled:

GENTES FOODS 10 OZ GORDITA BLACK BEAN TORTILLAS UPC 618032102021

As previously announced, Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas were distributed to the Safeway and Pak N Save stores in California listed below. Our previous notification, with date code of “12 7 11” was incorrect, and product with this date code is safe to consume. The revised date code, which is on a white sticker applied to the packaging, reads “11 6 11.” These date codes sold at other retail outlets have not been affected because the products were not exposed to a lack of refrigeration controls.

SAFEWAY #1110
1546 N MAIN
SALINAS
CA
SAFEWAY #2840
2010 FREEDOM BLVD
WATSONVILLE
CA
PAK N SAVE #3116
2255 GELLERT BLVD
S SAN FRANCISCO
CA
PAK N SAVE #3125
3889 SAN PABLO AVE
EMERYVILLE
CA

Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas are packed as 6 tortillas in a vacuum packaged clear sleeve. The package is approximately 10oz in size and an orange label is on a clear wrapper with white lettering.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

These items have been recalled due to a lack of temperature control during the distribution process. UNFI inadvertently subjected the recall items to temperature ranges above those directed by the manufacturer.

Consumers who have purchased Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas from the stores listed above with the date code mentioned should not consume these products, and are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Lisa Madsen of the Company at 1-401-528-8634, Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.



United Natural Foods, Inc. Expands Recall Of Foodmatch Inc. Divina Olives Due To Possible Health Risk


Contact:
Consumer
Lisa Madsen
401-528-8634

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 14, 2011 - United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling selected types of FoodMatch, Inc. Divina Stuffed Olives, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The following products have been recalled:

DIVINA 4 OZ OLIVES,FETA CHEESE STUFFED UPC 63172352780
DIVINA 4 OZ OLIVES,BLUE CHEESE STUFFED UPC 63172352790

Divina Olives Stuffed with Feta Cheese were distributed to the stores identified below. The date codes affected states: Best Used By: 11 JAN 2012 and Best Used By: 1 FEB 2012.

SAFEWAY #0583
1606 N AVE
SPEARFISH
SD
SAFEWAY #1577
6520 S ACADEMY ROAD
COLORADO SPRINGS
CO
SAFEWAY #1615
3325 28TH STREET
BOULDER
CO
SAFEWAY #1644
7655 MCLAUGHLIN RD
FALCON
CO
SAFEWAY #2761
1165 MAIN ST
LANDER
WY
SAFEWAY #2792
27152 MAIN ST
CONIFER
CO
SAFEWAY #2910
1632 HOVER ROAD
LONGMONT
CO
SAFEWAY #0853
7625 OLD GEORGETOWN ROAD
BETHESDA
MD
SAFEWAY #0942
12 WEST WASHINGTON ST
MIDDLEBURG
VA
SAFEWAY #1283
8646 RICHMOND HIGHWAY
ALEXANDRIA
VA
SAFEWAY #1606
9596 OLD KEENE MILL RD
BURKE
VA
SAFEWAY #1668
5510 NORBECK ROAD
ROCKVILLE
MD
SAFEWAY #1956
14939 SHADY GROVE ROAD
ROCKVILLE
MD
SAFEWAY #2650
43150 BROADLANDS PLAZA
ASHBURN
VA
SAFEWAY #4002
5727 BURKE CENTER
BURKE
VA
SAFEWAY #4205
415 14TH STREET SE
WASHINGTON
DC

Date codes Best Used By: 11 JAN 2012 and Best Used By: 1 FEB 2012 sold at other retail outlets have not been affected because the products were not exposed to a lack of refrigeration controls.

Divina Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese were distributed to the following states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington DC through the following retail stores: Genuardis, Carrs, Safeway, Pavilion and Vons. The following date codes were affected:

Best Used By: 11 JAN 2012, Best Used By: 15 DEC 2011, Best Used By: 30 DEC 2011, Best Used By: 1 FEB 2012

These date codes sold at other retail outlets have not been affected because the products were not exposed to a lack of refrigeration controls.

Divina Feta Cheese Stuffed Olives are packaged in plastic 4oz cup containers with a blue and yellow label.

Divina Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives are packaged in plastic 4oz cup containers with a blue label.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

These items have been recalled due to a lack of temperature control during the distribution process. UNFI inadvertently subjected the recall items to temperature ranges above those directed by the manufacturer.

Consumers who have purchased FoodMatch Inc. Divina Feta Cheese Stuffed Olives, or FoodMatch Inc. Divina Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives should not consume these products and are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Lisa Madsen of the Company at 1-401-528-8634, Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.

FoodMatch Details UNFI Recall


NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The FDA announced that United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) Recalls Divina Olives. FoodMatch Inc. recommends that the following products be withdrawn from the market to ensure the safety and health of our customers.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is recalling:

·        7 cases of 4 oz. refrigerated deli cups of Divina Olives stuffed with Feta Cheese with a best by date 11JAN2012 sold exclusively to Safeway stores in Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming

·        46 cases 4 oz. refrigerated deli cups of Divina olives stuffed with Blue cheese with best by dates 11JAN2012, 15DEC2011, and 30DEC2011 sold exclusively to Carrs, Safeway, Pavilion, and Vons stores in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada , South Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming

The above 53 cases are the only Divina products affected by this recall.

As noted in the FDA alert, "UNFI inadvertently subjected the recall items to temperature ranges above those directed by the manufacturer." No illnesses have been reported to date.

The Quality Assurance Manager at FoodMatch Inc. is Ms. Jari Buechler and can be reached at 212.244.5050 for additional information.

Smucker Peanut Butter recall due to possible Salmonella

J. M. Smucker announced a multistate recall due to possible Salmonella contamination.  There have been no reported illnesses.
 



The J.M. Smucker Company Announces a Limited Voluntary Recall on Two Specific Best-If-Used-By Dates of 16 oz. Smucker’s® Natural Peanut Butter Chunky Due to Possible Health Risk

Contact:
Consumer
888-550-9555

Maribeth Badertscher
Vice President, Corporate Communications
330-682-3000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 16, 2011 - The J.M. Smucker Company today announced a limited voluntary recall on two specific Best-If-Used-By dates of 16 oz. Smucker’s® Natural Peanut Butter Chunky because it may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov1.

This product was distributed in: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

The affected product, which is packaged in 16 oz. jars, is as follows:

    • UPC: 5150001701 (located on the side of the jar's label below the bar code)
    • Production Codes: 1307004 and 1308004
    • Best-If-Used-By dates: August 3, 2012 and August 4, 2012
    • Chunky product only (not creamy)
    • Impacted product would have been purchased between November 8 - 17, 2011

No other products of The J.M. Smucker Company are affected by this recall.

No illnesses related to this issue have been reported and the product is being recalled out of an abundance of caution for consumer safety.

The recall was initiated as the result of a routine sampling program by the company, which revealed that these finished products may contain the bacteria.

Consumers who have purchased Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter Chunky with the above Production Code and Best-If-Used-By dates are urged to discard the product immediately and call the company at 1-888-550-9555 for a replacement coupon. The company may require proof of purchase. Consumers with questions can contact the company to speak to a customer service representative at 1-888-550-9555 between Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM.

The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA


Monday, October 31, 2011

Auditing and the Food Safety System - Post Listieria-in-Cantaloupe

In the post-analysis of the Listeria outbreak related to cantaloupes, many have questioned how an auditor could have given passing scores to a facility responsible for so many illnesses, especially in light of the FDA audit of that facility during the outbreak investigation.   Face it, when an issue occurs in a facility, those auditors are going to find a lot of issues.


The recent outbreak of Listeria from cantaloupes should become one of those significant events with regard to food safety in the United States.  While this was the first for this pathogen in the produce related item, it certainly was not an issue that defied logic.   In the FDA investigation report, there appears to be a reasonable explanation behind the contamination scenario – product produced in an environment that allowed for the growth of listeria, a system that did not prevent contamination of the food item, and conditions that allowed it to grow on the product.   But its significance was that it is yet another tragedy that demonstrates the problems in our food chain.

As we have seen in other outbreaks, the companies that produced the food had recently passed a food safety audit.  They not only passed it, but passed with high scores.  Cleary, this is an issue.  However, is it right to put a beat-down on this auditor, and put all responsibility on them?

Clearly, it is the responsibility of the company management to ensure the safety of the product.  Companies should know their process better than anyone.  How can you expect an outside auditor, who is unlikely to know everything about every process they encounter, to hold full burden on passing judgment for the safety of a process during a one day audit? 

The problem is that some company decision makers do not know their own processes as well as they should, and often time, they are not willing to spend the time or money to do so.

·        Training – Are people trained in HACCP?  Do they understand the true risks associated with the process and the product?  Do these companies have people on staff trained in food science and technology, or if not, are they willing to hire a consultant with the proper training and experience to perform a real risk assessment? 

·        Verification testing – Do companies do ample testing to ensure the products they make are safe?  Are they testing their equipment to make sure that it is operating as it should?  Are they testing their environment for the presence for hazards that can be associated with the product or process?

·        Validation – Do companies properly validate their processes when they put them in place or make changes?  Do they have scientifically based research to support what they are doing?  Has in-plant testing been done when they commission the process?
Third-party audits are part of the food safety system, but they are by no means the entire system, especially when it comes to verification of food safety of the process.  Currently, third-party audits should provide a snapshot of how well a company is meeting the auditing standard, and hopefully will be able to catch glaring food safety issues.    Granted, with additional training, they will be better able to identify if validation documentation is present for the process and if it appears to make sense, but until these companies are willing to make the effort to truly understanding their process, there will be those companies who experience the ‘unexpected food contamination issue’.

So it is easy to pile-on the food safety auditor or even a government inspector after the fact.  Perhaps we can give them some extra training so they can identify issue better, or have them paid by someone besides the company they are auditing.  But it is important to remember that the company who makes the product is responsible for the safety.  And until that message is received by owners and company presidents who make final decisions for the products and processes, we will continue to face these same issues regardless of who pays for the audit.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Local foods and organic foods face food safety issues too.

While we have known this and have been saying it for some time, it is good  to see the media is communicating this type of information. 

Interesting statement from the article – The FDA has reported at least 20 recalls due to pathogens in organic food in the last two years, while the Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, issued a recall of more than 34,000 pounds of organic beef last December due to possible contamination with E. coli.”
 

Local, organic, natural foods not always safer as many small farms are exempt from laws

By Associated Press, Published: October 25


WASHINGTON — Shoppers nervous about foodborne illnesses may turn to foods produced at smaller farms or labeled “local,” ‘’organic” or “natural” in the hopes that such products are safer. But a small outbreak of salmonella in organic eggs from Minnesota shows that no food is immune to contamination.

While sales for food produced on smaller operations have exploded, partially fueled by a consumer backlash to food produced by larger companies, a new set of food safety challenges has emerged. And small farm operations have been exempted from food safety laws as conservatives, farmers and food-lovers have worried about too much government intervention and regulators have struggled with tight budgets.

The government has traditionally focused on safety at large food operations — including farms, processing plants, and retailers — because they reach the most people. Recent outbreaks in cantaloupe, ground turkey, eggs and peanuts have started at large farms or plants and sickened thousands of people across the country.

“While it’s critical that food processors be regularly inspected, there is no way the Food and Drug Administration would ever have the resources to check every farm in the country, nor are we calling for that,” says Erik Olson, a food safety advocate at the Pew Health Group. “Unfortunately, there are regulatory gaps, with some producers being completely exempt from FDA safeguards.”

The FDA, which oversees the safety of most of the U.S. food supply, often must focus on companies that have the greatest reach. A sweeping new egg rule enacted last year would require most egg producers to do more testing for pathogens. Though the rule will eventually cover more than 99 percent of the country’s egg supply, small farms like Larry Schultz Organic Farm of Owatonna, Minn., would not qualify. That farm issued a recall last week after six cases of salmonella poisoning were linked to the farm’s eggs.

A new food safety law President Barack Obama signed earlier this year exempts some small farms as a result of farmers and local food advocates complaining that creating costly food safety plans could cause some small businesses to go bankrupt. The exemption covers farms of a certain size that sell within a limited distance of their operation.

Food safety advocates unsuccessfully lobbied against the provision, as did the organic industry. Christine Bushway of the Organic Trade Association, which represents large and small producers, says food safety comes down to proper operation of a farm or food company, not its scale.

“How is the farm managed? How much effort is put into food safety?” she asks. “If you don’t have really good management, it doesn’t matter.”

Smaller farms do have some obvious food safety advantages. Owners have more control over what they are producing and often do not ship as far, lessening the chances for contamination in transport. If the farm is organic, an inspector will have to visit the property to certify it is organic and may report to authorities if they see food being produced in an unsafe way. Customers may also be familiar with an operation if it is nearby.

But those checks aren’t fail-safe. The FDA has reported at least 20 recalls due to pathogens in organic food in the last two years, while the Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, issued a recall of more than 34,000 pounds of organic beef last December due to possible contamination with E. coli.

Egg safety is equally ambiguous. While many people like to buy cage-free eggs, those chickens may be exposed to bacteria on the grounds where they are roaming.

So what can a consumer do? Experts say to follow the traditional rules, no matter what the variety of food. Cook foods like eggs and meat, and make sure you are scrubbing fruit and cleaning your kitchen well.

Do your part, and hope for the best, the experts say.

“Labels like organic or local don’t translate into necessarily safer products,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “They are capturing different values but not ensuring safety.”

Bushway of the Organic Trade Association says one of the best checks on food safety is the devastating effect a recall or foodborne illness outbreak can have on a company’s bottom line.

“It’s just good business to make sure you are putting the safest products on the market,” she says.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Deadly food bugs a threat to gardens

Dr. LaBorde speaking about garden food safety



Deadly food bugs a threat to gardens     



Daily American

DAN DiPAOLO Daily American Sunday Editor

9:32 p.m. EDT, October 1, 2011


The rising death toll in the cantaloupe listeria outbreak in Colorado has thrown into sharp relief the need for safe food growing, harvesting and processing.

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is working to determine the exact mechanisms and extent of the outbreak, local and state officials are releasing tips on how home gardeners and canners can avoid foodborne illnesses.

Luke LaBorde, an associate professor of food science at the Pennsylvania State University, said that there a number of resources available for new growers and canners.

“What we’re hearing from the agricultural people is that we have seen an increased interest in backyard gardens and canning,” he said. “Often, it’s a product of the economy when we see an increase like this.”

According to the CDC, the listeria outbreak traced to Jensen Farms has killed 15 people and sickened 84 throughout the nation.

Knowing how pathogens like listeria, E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter get into foods and how they cause sickness is the first step in prevention, said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the state’s acting physician general and the director of the Bureau of Epidemiology at the Department of Health.

The current outbreak of listeria is unusual because the bacteria is normally found in cheeses, processed meats and dairy products, Ostroff said.

The bacteria thrives in the intestinal tracts of animals and can be passed into food products through poor processing. Another method commonly seen is when cows bearing the bacteria on their udders pass it into the harvested milk.

“That’s why there are so many regulations and tests in the state for farmers producing and selling raw milk. The pasteurization process is designed to eliminate organisms like that,” Ostroff said.

The Colorado outbreak might have been caused by the least common form of listeria transfer — from soil contaminated by feces or other animal products that have been absorbed into the growing fruit.

“That’s something they haven’t determined yet, but are working toward,” he said.

E. coli is commonly found in the feces of cows, other similar animals and even people. The feces can come into contact with food as it is being processed, work it’s way into the water supply or again be absorbed into produce through contaminated soil.

Salmonella is found in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals. The butchering process can put the contaminated feces into contact with the meat. In the case of eggs, the bacteria is passed directly into the forming egg from an infected bird.

Illness commonly occurs when raw meats and eggs are undercooked or come into contact with raw fruits and vegetables. Salmonella can also be passed on through improper canning, Ostroff said

Campylobacter is the most commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the world, according to the CDC. These bacteria live in the intestines of healthy birds, and most raw poultry meat has bacteria on it.

Eating undercooked chicken, or other food that has been contaminated juice from the bird is the most common source of this infection.

The good news for backyard garden and canning enthusiasts is that a few simple safety procedures will greatly reduce the risk of illness, LaBorde said.

The easiest way to keep you and your family healthy is simply to cook meats and vegetables thoroughly. In the case of ground beef it is best to make sure the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees before serving.

Keeping meats and vegetables away from each other while preparing the food is also important. “Too many people cut and prepare their food on the same surface,” LaBorde said.



Owning separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables is a smart tactic. In fact, many affordable cutting boards come in different colors, making it easy to maintain separation.

When it comes to gardens, keep animals out. “Keep the garden neat, use fences or discourage animals from foraging there,” he said. That includes pets. Congregating animals can cause soil contamination through feces droppings.

“Also, don’t use any composted animal manure,” he said. “Not only can there be bacteria, but also parasites present,” he said.

When choosing a site for the garden keep in mind that any flooding from nearby water sources can lead to contamination. Plant away from creeks or ponds that can overflow, he said.

“Don’t plant where there’s been a history of flooding,” he said. “When it comes to floodwater, there’s no way of knowing what the crop is being exposed to.”

Floods can bring bacteria, parasites, pesticides, toxic chemicals and a myriad of other harmful substances into contact with your food supply.

“If your garden gets flooded, the best — really, the only course of action — should be to abandon that crop,” LaBorde said.

Finally, wash your hands before picking and the produce before preparation. Dirty hands can contaminate the food during canning and regular cooking.

“There are many resources like our website on food safety. People should always learn as much as possible before going down that road,” he said.

“In some cases we offer courses and demonstrations on how to properly prepare and can food. Contact your local (cooperative) extension to see if they are available in your area.”

For more information, visit http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety online.

Recalls of Romine Lettuce and Organic Grape Tomatoes

Two produce companies are recalling product because they tested positive for a potential pathogen – romaine lettuce for Listeria, and organic grape tomatoes for Salmonella.  No illnesses were reported.

·        True Leaf Farms is expanding its voluntary recall of romaine to include 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded romaine because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.  Product was delivered to 19 states.

·        Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce is expanding the geographic scope of its voluntary recall of organic grape tomatoes. Although the volume of cases from the original production lot has not changed, the company recognizes the possibility that some customers may have distributed the organic grape tomatoes beyond the original 18 states to include all states in the U.S and Canada.

True Leaf Farms Expands
Voluntary Recall of Bagged, Chopped Romaine

FDA Release 9/29/11


Contact:
Consumer:
True Leaf Farms
800-799-9475

Media:
Steve Church
831-760-620
steve@churchbrothers.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 29, 2011- True Leaf Farms is expanding its voluntary recall of romaine to include 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded romaine because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The initial recalled product was shipped between September 12 and 13 to a retail food service distributor in Oregon who further distributed it to at least two additional states, Washington and Idaho.

At the request of the US Food and Drug Administration the recall notification is expanded to cover additional product shipped to wholesale food service distributors in 19 states and Alberta, Canada. The states include Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. All the romaine affected by this recall has a "use by date" of 9/29/11.

No illnesses related to this finding have been reported.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The only outlet where the romaine was available for direct consumer purchase was at Unified Grocers, Inc. Cash & Carry Smart Food Service stores in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The product at those outlets was packed in True Leaf Farms cardboard cartons. All bags carry a "use by date" of 9/29/11. This product was labeled as follows:

  • 2# bags, chopped romaine- Bag and box code B256-46438-8

Photos of the label on these bags can be viewed at www.churchbrothers.com/recall1. FDA notified the company that a sample taken as part of a random check from a single bag of chopped romaine tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. True Leaf Farms is working with FDA to inform consumers of this recall. In addition, the company is working with its food service distribution customers to ensure that other romaine products that may be implicated are pulled from the market.

"We are fully cooperating with the FDA, and we are contacting all of our customers to ensure prompt removal of any product potentially associated with the recall," said Steve Church, True Leaf Farms. "We are committed to conducting this recall quickly and efficiently to reduce any risk to public health."

Anyone who has in their possession the recalled romaine as described above should not consume it, and should either destroy it or call Church Brothers, LLC for product pickup.

Consumers with questions or who need information may call Church Brothers, LLC, the sales agent for True Leaf Farms, at 1-800-799-9475, or may visit www.churchbrothers.com2 for updates.







Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce Expands Possible Distribution Area of Voluntary
Organic Grape Tomato Recall Recall
Still Confined to Original Production Lot

FDA Release 9/28/11 


Contact:
Consumer
619-661-6000
info@andrew-williamson.com

Media
Mark Munger
619 661-6004 (office)
831 345-6937 (mobile)
info@andrew-williamson.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 28, 2011 - Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce is expanding the geographic scope of its voluntary recall of organic grape tomatoes. Although the volume of cases from the original production lot has not changed, the company recognizes the possibility that some customers may have distributed the organic grape tomatoes beyond the original 18 states. Therefore, the company is extending the recall to all states in the U.S. The recall includes Canada, as initially indicated.

The recall notice is being issued out of an abundance of caution because one clamshell of Limited Edition organic grape tomatoes tested positive for Salmonella in a random sample collected and tested by the United States Department of Agriculture in Michigan.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

All customers who received the organic grape tomatoes directly from the company were notified on September 28 and advised to discard any existing product. No illnesses have been reported in association with this product.

The organic grape tomatoes are sold in 10.5 oz. plastic “clam shell” containers containing UPC code 033383655925, located on the front of the package, below the barcode. The containers also have the words “LIMITED EDITION” and “Product of Mexico” printed on the label. The organic grape tomatoes are also sold in 7 oz. plastic “clam shell” containers with Barcode 20025465, and marketed under the “Fresh & Easy” brand.

The voluntary recall only involves Limited Edition and Fresh & Easy™ labeled organic grape tomatoes and does not involve any other Limited Edition or Fresh & Easy™ branded produce items. Consumers who have any remaining product with UPC code 033383655925 or Barcode 20025465 should not consume it, but should instead discard it. As an added safety measure, retailers are encouraged to check their inventories and store shelves to confirm that product is no longer available for purchase. Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce customer service representatives are contacting retailers to confirm that the recalled product is removed from commerce.

“At Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce our highest priority is the safety and welfare of the consumer. We are committed to the highest standards of food safety and will continue to rigorously pursue the highest food safety levels possible,” said Fred Williamson, President and CEO.

Consumers with questions may contact Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce at 1 (619) 661-6000, Monday-Friday, 8am–5pm pacific time, or email questions to info@andrew-williamson.com.