Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Canadian company recalls cheesy bread due to Listeria

A Canadian company is recalling breaded items with cheese after the product was found to have Listeria.  There have been no  illnesses associated with the bread items.

This is an interesting case because it is rare that we find a bread item with microbiological pathogen issues, especially Listeria.   However, since this is a bread item with cheese, this is what makes it different than regular bread.  Being that the Canadian recall notice is chock full  of information...not really, we can only guess how the issue occurred.  From looking at the pic, it appears the bread was cooked, sliced, and then layered with cheese.  Then, to fix the cheese to the top of the bread, it was surface heated to a point where the cheese sticks on the bread but the bread is not reheated.   So if this is the case, either the cheese was contaminated before application (either as an incoming ingredient or by the application equipment) and then the organism survived because the fixing heat was no sufficient heat to destroy the organism.  If the cheese did receive sufficient heat, then there could have been a post-process contamination event where the cheese, now on the bread, was exposed to Listeria within the environment.  Perhaps the cheese wasn't heated at all, and was just added to warm bread, making the contamination event easier to  explain.

It is hard to see this as a high risk product from the standpoint that one would expect the water activity (Aw) or available moisture of the cheese to be high enough to support growth.
One question was whether this was frozen or refrigerated?  Freezing will prevent growth of Listeria and would also mean the product would have to probably be heated before eating.  Refrigerated cheesy bread would allow growth, but would also have a limited shelf-life.  
How did they find the contamination...were they testing, and if so, why?
Would love to hear any feedback on this one.

This has implications for retail and foodservice operations who make similar breaded products (or even RTE refrigerated pizza), store it and then sell it

CFIA Recall Notice
Food Recall Warning - Co-op and Market Town Co-op brands bakery products recalled due to Listeria
Recall date:    March 21, 2014
Reason for recall:    Microbiological - Listeria
Hazard classification: Class 1
Company / Firm:   Federated Co-Operatives Ltd.
Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan
Extent of the distribution: Retail
Reference number: 8723
Recall details
Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Co-op California Garlic Bread None Best Before dates up to and including 14 MR 23 0 057316 130112
Co-op Garlic/Cheese Bread 250 g Best Before dates up to and including 14 MR 23 0 057316 073969
Co-op Garlic/Cheese Bread 2 Pk 450 g Best Before dates up to and including 14 MR 23 0 057316 146847
Market Town Co-op Pizza Bread 425 g Best Before dates up to and including 14 MR 23 0 057316 040305

What you should do
Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die.
Learn more about the health risks
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This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.


There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

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