Monday, November 12, 2012

Fresh Express Recalls Bagged Greens..Again

Fresh Express is recalling bagged spinach for Salmonella after a sample, as part of USDA sampling program, came up positive.  There were no illnesses reported.

This is a reported fifth time a Fresh Express product has been recalled due to a pathogen positive test.  Why so many, the Oregonian Newspaper asks.  To be fair, there seems to be an increase in these type of recalls in produce overall.  Has the amount of testing increased?  Perhaps a government agency that was just a moment from being eliminated has picked up their game.  Or is it that bagged produce more likely to contain pathogens when compared to unprocessed greens?  But are unprocessed greens tested at the same level as bagged greens?  We do know that bagged chopped greens are considered a TCS food (temperature control for safety, or what used to be known as PHF, or potentially hazardous food).  This is because pathogens, if present, have better growth potential in the chopped greens compared to whole greens. So, there is a greater need to have no pathogens present in those products.  But to what degree is it possible to completely eliminate all pathogens while still maintaining a product that does not taste like sanitizer?  Remember, these greens are grown in fields, and birds and other critters will poop there.  So without a silver bullet to completely eliminate this bacterial risk, testing is bound to discover a positive from time to time thus resulting in a recall, and hopefully not an illness.  Processors of this type of product, therefore, need to put in controls and then manage those controls to minimize the risk. Retailers and consumers must control that product through proper refrigeration.

Salmonella in spinach: fifth Fresh Express recall in three months

Published: Friday, November 09, 2012, 9:12 AM Updated: Friday, November 09, 2012, 1:09 PM
Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
Fresh Express, which sells a variety of bagged greens, is recalling packaged spinach over salmonella.

This is the company's fifth recall of bagged greens since August over bacterial contamination. This time it is pulling spinach with a use-by date of Nov. 7 sold in 9 oz. packages. The potentially tainted spinach was sold to stores in 18 states, including Oregon, Washington Idaho and California.
Fresh Express, owned by Chiquita Brands International Inc. in North Carolina, said in its recall notice on the Food and Drug Administration website that the contamination was spotted in a test by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tiffany Breaux, a Chiquita spokeswoman, said in an email that the company reviewed its records and conducted an “intensive investigation" into the contamination. Apparently, its staff was unable to trace the source of the pathogens.

It's unclear where the greens were grown and where and how they were packaged. Breaux indicated that the recalls have not prompted any change in the company's food safety system.

In the past three months, Fresh Express has pulled bagged greens after positive bacterial tests by federal authorities. In October, the company recalled hearts of romaine salad tainted with salmonella. In September, it again pulled hearts of romaine salad but over listeria contamination. Also in September, it pulled leafy green romaine salad over listeria, and in August it recalled hearts of romaine over listeria.

Both salmonella and listeria can cause serious gastro-intestinal symptoms and even death. Listeria poses a particular threat to pregnant woman, causing still births and miscarriages.

Both bacteria can end up in a variety of food but bagged greens are considered high risk because of the possibility of contamination spreading when one tainted leaf of lettuce, for example, is mixed with other greens and packaged.

But so many recalls by one company in such a short time frame is unusual. The last time before August that Fresh Express pulled contaminated greens from the market was in April 2011 when it recalled 9 oz. bags of spinach tainted with salmonella.


Fresh Express Recalls Limited Quantity of 9 oz. Spinach Due to Possible Health Risk

1 - (800) 242-5472

Tiffany Breaux 1 - (704) 280-5938
Barbara Hines 1 - (972) 724-3049

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 7 , 2012 - Charlotte, North Carolina - Fresh Express Incorporated is conducting a voluntary, precautionary recall of a limited quantity of Fresh Express Spinach with a Use-by Date of November 7 and Product Code of S299B25 due to a possible health risk from Salmonella.

No illnesses or consumer complaints have been reported to Fresh Express at this time in association with this recall. No other Fresh Express products are subject to this recall.

The recall notification is being issued out of an abundance of caution due to an isolated instance in which a random sample yielded a positive result for Salmonella under U.S. Department of Agriculture's random sample testing program. Fresh Express is coordinating closely with regulatory officials.

Fresh Express customer service representatives are already contacting relevant retailers to confirm the recalled product has been removed from store shelves and inventories and that none is available for consumer purchase. Customers with questions are instructed to contact their usual Fresh Express customer service representative. The recalled salads were distributed primarily in the Western region of the U.S.

Consumers who may have purchased the recalled salad are asked not to eat it, but to throw it out instead. Fresh Express is offering a full refund. Consumers with questions or who would like to secure a refund may call the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at (800) 242-5472 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Specific recall information follows:

  • Product Being Recalled: Fresh Express Spinach in 9 oz. package
  • Product Code: S299B25 (located in upper right corner on front of package)
  • Use-by Date: November 7 (also located in upper right hand corner of package)
  • Distribution: Primarily in the Western region of the U.S.

Salmonella is an organism that may cause fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and possibly bloody diarrhea in healthy individuals. It can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Consumers with these symptoms should consult their health care provider.

Fresh Express Precautionary Salad Recall-11/7/12
(No other Fresh Express Salads are included in this recall)

Brand Product Name Size UPC Production Code Best If Used By Date POSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION STATES
Fresh Express Spinach 9 OZ. 0 71279-13204 4 S299B25 NOV7 AZ, CA, CO, HI, I D, KS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM,OK,OR,SD, TX, UT, WA,WY

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