Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Popcorn Recalled Due to Listeria

Dale and Thomas are recalling various brands of flavored popcorn after the company discovered Listeria through finished product testing.

 A discussion this morning prompted a review of how Listeria could become an issue in popcorn. In general, we would not consider Listeria a hazard in popped or unpopped popcorn. But based on pure conjecture, we would focus on the flavoring used. First, we would assume that the popcorn itself would not be an issue. The temperature used to pop the corn would eliminate Listeria - approximately 181C (357F) to 187C (369F) (Kinetics of Popping Popcorn, Byrd and Perona, 2005). The Listeria issue would be related to the enrobing or coating process, specifically related to the ingredients they are using. Looking at the ingredients for one of the products (below), Aged White Cheddar, there are ingredients that we would consider higher risk, specifically cheese and butter milk, in that these could serve as a growth medium for Listeria. However, once these ingredients are mixed and then enrobed on the popped kernel surface, growth would be unlikely. Other ingredients such as caramel would not likely be an issue.  Being that the cheddar and buttermilk are probably dry and are probably added as a dry mixture, areas where water are introduced increase risk.  This can be residual moisture from cleaning, or water used in and around the flavor mixing process.  Of course if the flavor mix uses added water, then handling from mixing through enrobing is more an issue.

So controlling Listeria would be prior to and including the enrobing step as well as within the post-popping environment – 1) purchasing higher risk ingredients (cheese and buttermilk) with assurance that are they are Listeria free, 2) properly storing and handling these ingredients to prevent contamination, 3) cleaning and sanitizing the mixing kettles, the enrobing equipment and all transfer pipes of enrobing mixture, 4) properly cleaning finished product transfer to packaging equipment and 5) maintaining a clean environment after the heat process.  

One would focus testing efforts on conducting Listeria monitoring through the use of a sponge sampling on the flavor mixing, enrobing, and packaging equipment as well as in the post-process environment. If a niche (a spot where there was product build-up) existed somewhere from the enrobing through packaging, it would unlikely support growth of Listeria, but if it the organism was present in the enrobing mixture at the start, it could get hung up in that post-heat processing equipment and then serve as a contamination source for finished product moving through. The key however, would be the control of high risk ingredients, - specifically their purchase, receipt, storage and handling.

In addition to Listeria as a hazard, Salmonella would be considered another important pathogen that would be considered a hazard.


Dale and Thomas Popcorn Issues Voluntary Recall of Certain Popcorn Products Due to Possible Health Risk

SOURCE Dale and Thomas Popcorn

ENGLEWOOD, N.J., Sept. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Dale and Thomas Popcorn is voluntarily recalling a limited number of ready-to-eat bags of select flavors of Popcorn, Indiana-brand popcorn products (listed below) because of possible contamination by Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which 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. Anyone who is concerned about a possible health problem or illness should contact a healthcare provider immediately.

Products involved in the recall should not be consumed and may be returned to the point of purchase for a full refund or replacement.

The recalled products were distributed to various retailers, vendors, distribution centers, and consumers through the Internet on or after August 8th, 2012 with Best By dates of February 4th, 2013 through March 12th, 2013. All recalled products were packaged in red bags of various sizes. Consumers can identify if they have purchased an impacted product by looking at the Best By date located in the front, top right corner of the package and the Bag UPC (Code) located in the nutritional panel found on the back, bottom left corner of the package.

http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120928/NY83405 )

All other Popcorn, Indiana-brand products are safe to consume. 

The potential for contamination was noted after testing by the company revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in some ready-to-eat bags of Popcorn, Indiana-brand products.

Consumers with recalled product(s) should contact Dale and Thomas' dedicated recall hotline (866) 940-7936 Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, or email the company at:
recall@daleandthomaspopcorn.com for additional information.

Recalled Flavors - Aged white cheddar, Almond Biscoitti, American Cheese, Apple Crisp, Bacon Ranch, Black and White Drizzle, Caramel, Chocolate Roasted Peanuts, Cinnamon Sugar Drizzle, Dark Fudge Chocolate Chip Drizzle, Kettlecorn, Kettlecorn Multipack, Salat and Pepper, Wasabi

FDA News Release
Dale and Thomas Popcorn Issues Voluntary Recall of Certain Popcorn Products Due to Possible Health Risk


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