Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Farmers' Market Food Processor Cited for Improper Processing

Consumers in Michigan are being asked to check their farmers' market purchases for jars of food that may have been improperly processed.

Farmers' Markets can be considered the wild west for food processing.   Because of the ease of entry into this food sales channel, many want-to-be food processors can introduce most any concoction they dream up.  Luckily, as in this case, regulators are patrolling the sales tents and tailgates that populate the ever increasing number of farmers' markets.

It is one thing to sell the raw agricultural commodities, the anchor products for farmers' markets, but when people start to process and sell foods, there are additional regulatory requirements that must be met.   These requirements, such as licensure and certifications, help to ensure that budding processors are producing safe food.  Unfortunately, too many do not know the regulations, and more importantly, the principles and practices that these regulations require.

In this case, there is a reason why measure the pH during the acidification of a food.  If a food is not properly acidified, then the potential exists for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the causative agent of botulism poisoning.  An issue in achieving proper acidification not only affects the consumer, but also the owner / operator that is selling the product who can be subject to a lawsuit.  So the rules protect the consumer as well as the seller.

Those shopping at farmers' markets would be wise to make sure the foods hey purchase were processed in a licensed/inspected facility.

 Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Release,4610,7-125-1660-363109--,00.html
Consumer Advisory: Consumers Warned to Not Consume Brandy & Dutch Weigand Products Due to Potential Health Risk
Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development
For immediate release: August 24, 2015
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
Consumer questions: MDARD’s Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939

Lansing – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is warning consumers who may have purchased products labeled with any of the following names to dispose of all products immediately because they were manufactured in an unlicensed facility not using required controls for the safe production of processed foods:

· Brandy’s “Jam”boree-N-More
· Brandy & Dutch Weigand
· Pier III

Known products include various pickled products, relishes, syrups and jams, but other products may have been produced under these labels. Acidified foods like pickled products pose a serious risk of botulism if pH and other critical factors are not carefully controlled during processing to prevent the growth of C. botulinum.
Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. The very young, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

No illnesses have been identified at this time. The products were sold at various farmers markets and festivals, including the St. Clair Shores, Dodge Park, Sterling Heights, Shelby Township and New Baltimore farmers markets.

Consumers who have any of these products or any foods made with these products should throw them away immediately. Double bag the products in plastic bags that are tightly closed then place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home. Consumers with health concerns from consumption of the product should contact their health care provider.

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