Monday, November 11, 2013

RTE Salad and Sandwich Wrap Products Recalled Due to Potenial Link with an E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

UPDATE 11/13/13 - From CDC (below), as of 11/10/13, there are a total of 26 cases of people infected with E. coli O157:H7 with 2 cases of HUS.  Traceback analysis conducted by government agencies indicates that Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken produced by Glass Onion and sold by Trader Joe's is the likely source.

Initial Report 11/11/13
USDA and FDA are reporting that a California company is recalling approximately 180,000 lbs of ready-to-eat salad and sandwich wrap products due to being linked to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak (news releases below). FDA and CA Dept of Health have identified a cluster of 26 cases of E.coli infection where patients had consumed pre-packaged items produced by Glass Onion Catering / Atherstone Foods. The recalled product was produced from Sept 29 through Nov 6. This product was shipped to distribution centers in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas. This company co-packed product for brands including Trader Joe's and Super Fresh which are included in the recall.  Retailers included Walgreen and Whole Foods.
A few interesting items to note:
  •  The company produces salad items with and without chicken. E. coli O157:H7 has not been an issue with chicken. Produce items have been linked to E. coli outbreaks in the past (including the 2007 spinach outbreak). The question regarding the chicken is whether they were they cooking their own chicken or was the chicken purchase precooked from another company that could have handled other meat products. Also, the recall was issued based upon an epidemiological field investigation that showed a high correlation to consumption of this company’s product, but at this point, there has not been test positive product samples with the pathogen.
  • Glass Onion Catering is a growing business, recently expanding operations, purchasing and retrofitting a 42,500 sq ft facility in 2011, so have only been producing from that facility within the last year or two. The facility was previously owned by a manufacturer of paper rolls (non-food). It will be interesting to see if facility issues had any impact in light of the fact that the operation was retrofitted for food production. Along with moving into a new facility, there is also the rapid expansion in the operation to meet a growing market. When small companies rapidly increase production volume, such as when they pick-up national accounts (in this case, Trader Joe's), an important question is whether they have the necessary systems in place to control quality and ensure safety?
  • As for Trader Joe's, here again we have another small co-packing facility (Glass Onion) whose food safety issues have impacted the Trader Joe's brand. Two previous issues where co-packers have negatively impacted the Trader Joe’s brand were peanut butter with Salmonella and frozen chicken dinners with Listeria. While many retailers, including Trader Joe’s, have a model for finding those unique products made by small companies and then bringing those products to a larger market, there can be increased risk to their brand if these smaller companies have a food safety issue.

CDC News Release
Posted November 12, 2013 7:00 PM ET
  • As of November 10, 2013, a total of 26 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from three states.
  • The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (22), and Washington (3).
  • 28% of ill persons have been hospitalized. Two ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.
  • The STEC O157:H7 PFGE pattern in this outbreak is new to the PulseNet database.
  • Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, are one likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.
  • On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering voluntarily recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.
  • Read the list of recalled products regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
  • Read the list of recalled products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Consumers should check their homes and refrigerators for recalled ready-to-eat salad products and wraps.
  • Do not eat the recalled products and dispose of any remaining product.
  • People who have eaten a recalled product should look for signs of STEC infection.


USDA News Release
 California Firm Recalls Grilled Chicken Salad Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination
Class I Recall 065-2013
Health Risk: High Nov 10, 2013
Congressional and Public Affairs
Richard J. McIntire
(202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, November 10, 2013 – Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully-cooked chicken and ham that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The company announced that the products are being recalled in conjunction with other foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A full list of products being recalled will be available on FDA’s website at:
Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “P-34221” inside the USDA mark of inspection. FSIS products subject to recall include: [Labels, PDF]
12 oz. packages of “delish pan pacific chop salad”
13.4 oz. packages of “delish California style grilled chicken salad”
9.9 oz. packages of “delish uncured applewood smoked ham & cheese wrap”
10.5 oz. packages of “delish grilled chicken caesar wrap”
10.9 oz. packages of “delish southwestern chicken wrap”
11.5 oz. packages of “delish greek brand low-calorie grilled chicken wrap”
9.9 oz. packages of “delish white chicken club wrap”
11.2 oz. packages of “delish asian style chicken wrap”
13.4 oz. packages of “atherstone Fine Foods Southwestern Style White Chicken Wrap with Chimichurri Sauce”
10.5 oz. packages of “atherstone Fine Foods Asian Style White Chicken Wrap with Mango Vinaigrette”
9.9 oz. packages of “atherstone Fine Foods Grilled White Chicken Caesar Wrap with Caesar Dressing”
10.7 oz. packages of “super fresh Foods California Grilled Chicken Salad, Low Fat Mendocino Mustard Dressing”
10.7 oz. packages of “Lunch Spot Southwestern Style Chicken Wrap, Chile & Lime Dressing”
9.2 oz. packages of “super fresh Foods Pan Pacific Chopped Chicken Salad, Ginger Soy Dressing”
10.7 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOE’S Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken.”
11 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOSÉ’S MEXICALI SALAD with Chili Lime Chicken.”  
The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 and shipped to distributions centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at
FSIS began monitoring a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on Oct. 29, 2013 then was notified by FDA on Nov. 6, 2013 that California authorities had reported case-patients consuming pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster. Twenty-six case-patients have been identified in three states with indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 PFGE (genetic fingerprint) patterns with illness onset dates ranging from Sept 29, 2013 to Oct. 26, 2013. Based on epidemiological information, 15 case-patients reported consumption of ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads prior to illness onset. A traceback investigation determined Glass Onion Catering was the supplier of the products implicated in the outbreak.
While uncommon to find E. coli O157:H7 in a poultry product, FSIS will continue its investigation in conjunction with the FDA to identify the source of the contamination. FSIS continues to work with the CDC, FDA and state public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available. 
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
FSIS and the company are concerned that some products may be in a consumer’s refrigerators. Because this is a ready-to-eat product, FSIS advises all consumers to destroy the product.
Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Tom Atherstone, company president, at (510) 236-8905.
Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:
FDA News Release
Atherstone Foods Voluntarily Recalls Salads and Wraps Because of Possible Health Risk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — November 9, 2013 – Athertone Foods, Inc. of Richmond, CA is voluntary recalling “Best Buy” dates 9-23-13 through 11-14-13 of ready to eat salads and wraps because they may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (E. coli O157:H7). E. coli O157:H7 causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death. To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.
Specific FDA regulated product information can be found here.
The “Best Buy” dates can be located on the front of the package label.
A full investigation is currently under way in order to identify any potential source of contamination. In the meantime, all retailers have been notified to cease selling these products from Atherstone Foods, Inc.
Consumers who purchased the contaminated products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or dispose of it. Consumers with questions may contact Atherstone Foods at (510) 236-8905 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm PST.
Contra Costa Times
Richmond catering company recall due to E. coli outbreak
 By Rick Hurd Contra Costa Times
Posted: 11/10/2013 09:55:41 AM PST | Updated: about 4 hours ago
RICHMOND -- More than 90 tons of prepackaged salads and sandwiches were recalled by a Richmond catering company because a bacterial strain of E. coli has been linked to its products, federal health officials announced Sunday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Glass Onion Catering recalled approximately 181,620 pounds of salads and sandwich wraps containing cooked chicken and ham after 26 patients in three states were sickened with E. coli O157:H7, a strain of the sometimes deadly bacteria.
The FSIS did not say in which states the E. coli patients became ill. The agency is urging anyone who may have bought salads or prewrapped sandwiches with cooked ham or chicken to throw them away.
The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, and were shipped to distribution centers in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas.
The Food and Drug Administration notified the FSIS on Wednesday that California authorities had tied the illnesses to the Richmond company.
Glass Onion Catering has been a source of food for retailer brands, including Trader Joe's, Super Fresh Foods and Delish. The company was launched in 1992. Its owner, Tom Atherstone, did not return multiple messages left with the company on Sunday.
According to the FSIS, the company began monitoring the outbreak Oct. 29 after a cluster of illnesses involving the E. coli strain.
The bacteria can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps some 2-8 days after a person is exposed to it, according to the FSIS. Most people recover within a week, but some develop kidney failure, the agency said.
Consumers with questions about food safety can go to, a virtual representative available 24 hours a day (via smart phone, the address is Call the USDA's meat and poultry hotline 7 a.m.-1 p.m. (PST) at 888-674-6854.

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