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. http://onefoodguy.blogspot.com/2009/08/triumphant-return-of-tuesdays-tastings.html). 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
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.
Though 19 cartons of the 12.5-ounce boxes were placed on hold at the distribution center, 240 cartons were shipped from Canada to various Trader Joe’s stores in the U.S., according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Authorities are concerned that shoppers may have already bought some of the chicken and rice packets from the grocery chain. The containers feature the product code 2012-10-31 and the lot code 30512.
Signs of listeria were detected during routine testing, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this weekend. The bacteria can cause fever, headaches, neck stiffness and muscle aches. It has also been known to lead to miscarriages, stillbirths and fatal infections.
The more than 100 affected Trader Joe’s stores are in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.
Trader Joe's told its customers in those areas not to eat the product and either dispose of it or return it to stores for a full refund.
Earlier this fall, Trader Joe’s was at the center of a massive recall, with dozens of its peanut, cashew and almond butter products linked to salmonella.
Producer Sunland Inc. had also distributed items to companies such as Sprouts, Harry & David, and Fresh & Easy.