Monday, December 10, 2012

Trader Joe's Recalls Frozen Chicken Dinner Due to Listeria

Trader Joe’s is recalling a frozen chicken product, Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice after routine testing found the product was contaminated with Listeria. 240 cases were shipped to 14 eastern US states and DC. The product was made in Canada.

 The product is a frozen product and would be considered heat and serve (although a final temperature of 165ºF is listed as a temperature that should be reached before serving. Freezing will prevent the organism from growing, so the risk then comes down to the level of contamination to start and to what degree can we expect the heating to reduce that initial contamination. Of course, if a consumer puts the frozen product in the refrigerator for a few days before cooking, those Listeria levels could rise once the product thaws. Overall, it may not be a high risk, but a risk that the consumer probably does not want, and should not have to expect. Since this product was pre-cooked, the facility should be controlling Listeria in the post-process environment (after cooking through packaging).

 This is the second recall to hit the media in the last few months. The last was the Sunland peanut butter that was contaminated with Salmonella and resulted in 41 becoming infected. Trader Joe’s is a company that sources its products from food manufacturers and therefore must ensure that those suppliers have good food safety programs. Having two recalls does raise concern about the company’s sourcing program.


Nearly 5,000 pounds of Trader Joe's chicken and rice recalled,0,5193331.story

 By Tiffany Hsu
December 3, 2012, 8:19 a.m.

Trader Joe’s is facing yet another recall, this time affecting nearly 5,000 pounds of its store brand Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice, which may be contaminated with listeria bacteria.

The producer of the product, Canadian company Aliya’s Foods Limited, issued a voluntary recall of 4,865 pounds of the frozen food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Martha Stewart, celebrity chef and author, contracts Salmonella

Martha Stewart contracted Salmonella over Thanksgiving from mishandling food in the form of raw turkey.  While we hate to see anyone become ill, having a celebrity chef come down with Salmonella can have a positive outcome.  Too often we see these celebrity chefs demonstrating poor practices, whether it is inadequate hand washing, cooking to the incorrect temperatures, or canning foods using the oven technique.  But my hope is that Martha will use this experience as motivator to endorse good safety practices.

Of course, in one of the news stories she has an idiot quote about a silver lining… “I lost some weight,”.  I can see it now, a bunch of kitchen debutantes licking raw chicken as a way to lose weight.  So much for my wishful thinking.

Salmonella: Martha Stewart Sickened Last Month After 'Handling So Many Turkeys'

Posted: 12/06/2012 11:06 am EST

Martha Stewart was confined to her bed for several days last month because of salmonella infection, the New York Post's Page Six reported.

“I never get sick, but I came down with salmonella. I think I caught it because I was handling so many turkeys around Thanksgiving," Stewart told Page Six. "I was on the 'Today' show, I did a number of other [Thanksgiving] appearances. It really hit me hard and I was in bed for days. It was terrible."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Veggie Burger Product Recalled Due to Potential for Listeria monocytogenes

Veggie Patch, a manufacturer of vegetable based food items, is recalling meatless burgers and falafel because their own internal testing program detected Listeria monocytogenes. What is the risk:
  • The meatless burgers are soy-based products (Ingredient statement below), which are considered a TCS food in the FDA Food Code. That is, the product will support the growth of organisms such as Listeria.
  • The product is considered fully cooked, so the instructions (attached below) are what would be considered heat-and-serve. These instructions would not be considered validated cooking instructions needed to destroy pathogens if present. ( is a guidance document for validating cooking instructions.)
  • This is a frozen product, so while frozen, that will prevent the growth of Listeria. Of course, if the consumer thaws the product and then holds it for days before consuming, this will allow for growth.
Question is, to what degree does the company’s food safety program, including sanitation, limit this recall to the day in question.
FDA News Release
VEGGIE PATCH® Voluntarily Recalls Two Items- The Ultimate Meatless Burger and Falafel
- Due To Possible Risk Of Contamination By Listeria monocytogenes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 30, 2012 – VEGGIE PATCH® is voluntarily recalling two products --The Ultimate Meatless Burger and Falafel-- due to a risk of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. 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 persons may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
The Ultimate Meatless Burger and Falafel, from VEGGIE PATCH, with the specific use-by dates and UPC codes listed below were distributed to a select number of retailers and distributors.
 9-ounce trays of refrigerated, fully cooked, VEGGIE PATCH, The Ultimate Meatless Burger with a Use-By date, Jan/12/2013; UPC code 6-10129-00211-5 (which can be found on back of package)
9-ounce trays of refrigerated, fully cooked, VEGGIE PATCH, Falafel with a Use-By date, Jan/15/2013; UPC code 6-10129-06619-3 (which can be found on back of package)