Friday, February 26, 2016

Update - Listeria Outbreak in Packaged Salads

In January,  CDC provided an update on a Listeria outbreak associated with Dole Packaged Salad made in their Ohio facility.  A update of that case was published where there are now a total of 18 people who have been infected with one death covering 9 states.  There are also a reported 11 cases in Canada with 3 deaths.

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Packaged Salads Produced at Springfield, Ohio Dole Processing Facility

Posted February 25, 2016 2:00 PM ET

What's New?

Three more ill people have been reported from Missouri (1) and Ohio (2), bringing the total to 18.
The most recent illness was diagnosed on January 31, 2016.

CDC MMWR - 2014 Botulism Outbreak Associated with Farm Stand Pesto

CDC MMWR has a report on the 2014 botulism outbreak associated with pesto purchased from a farm stand.  Two individual contracted the disease when sharing dinner of chicken with the tainted pesto.

In the report they found "Environmental assessment of company A identified improper acidification and pressurization practices and lack of licensure to sell canned products commercially, including products in hermetically-sealed jars......Health officials in California collected and analyzed an unopened jar of the pesto from this family member’s house. It was found to have a pH of 5.3 and water activity* of 0.965 (parameters insufficient to prevent growth of C. botulinum)."

The report goes on to state that "As the demand for locally made, ready-to-eat food increases, consumers and public health officials should be aware of the risk for botulism from improperly canned foods such as pesto sold in jars. Producers of canned foods for commercial use should ensure that they adhere to food safety regulations."

(More information on this outbreak in our 2014 report.)
Outbreak of Foodborne Botulism Associated with Improperly Jarred Pesto — Ohio and California, 2014

FDA Reports on the Contamination of Imported Spices, but not Retail Spics...Yet

FDA published a Q and A on the safety of spices looking at the contamination rates of incoming spices.   In a nutshell, the US imports spices from 79 countries, and of these, salmonella contamination was found in spices from 37 countries.  The also found that "Spice shipments offered for entry into the U.S. had an overall prevalence for Salmonella of approximately 6.6 percent during the 2007 to 2009 fiscal years, about twice the average prevalence of all other imported, FDA-regulated foods"

But this is not really a thing because spices are generally treated once they arrive in the US and these were not yet treated.  According to the website, "However, we noted in the study an important data gap in that we were missing key information about the level of contamination of spices at retail in the U.S. When we began conducting the risk profile, we asked the public for any data but did not receive information about contamination rates at retail. Because many imported spices are treated after entry to the U.S. to reduce contamination before they are sold to consumers, we knew that the 6.6 percent contamination rate found at the import level did not reflect what was actually reaching consumers."

Did they collect retail samples? Yes, but that data was not ready to release.

 FDA Website
Questions & Answers on Improving the Safety of Spices

NY Firm Recalls Chicken Salad Products Due to Listeria Positive Sample

A NY firm is recalling ready-to-eat chicken salad after they product tested positive for Listeria.  The unit size is 4 lbs which would be considered foodservice size.

FSIS Recall Notice
Sally Sherman Foods Firm Recalls Chicken Salad Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
Class I Recall 021-2016
Health Risk: High Feb 25, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Outbreak of E. coli in MN and WI Associated with Spouts

There is a second outbreak occurring with sprouts announced within the week, but this MN / WI based outbreak is associated with E. coli STEC.

The other spout related outbreak, which is based in Kansas, is due to Salmonella.

Mitigating Food Safety Issues - Monitoring of Social Media

Wall Street Journal has an interesting read about mitigating food safety risks.  Some of the keys mentioned are right on target..."Companies need strong food safety policies that are enforced, extensive employee training and messaging and regular checking of their supply chains through audits, and product testing to help mitigate their risks.."  Then monitoring is discussed at length with specific attention to monitoring of social media.  The point they make is that monitoring social media may be helpful, but it is far from full proof.  Case in point was the Chipotle outbreak where social mentions months before the outbreak were not much different than that during the outbreak.

There are times monitoring social media can help, like the case earlier this year when LA County Health identified an outbreak at a restaurant.  But monitoring of social media has its drawbacks, as we pointed out last year when it was highlighted in the news media as the next best thing in the fight against foodborne illness.  Those who monitor consumer complaints will probably tell you, sometimes a complaint of illness here or there is common, and it can be difficult in telling what is real and what is either a misinterpretation of cause by the consumer (they picked the last thing they ate,  it was a seasonal illness, etc) or the consumer just wanted to complain.

As part of the company's food safety system, monitoring of complaints made formally or made through social media can all help in identifying an issue earlier, but it is far from clear cut.  Much of it will be establishing procedures for identifying key words or patterns in the data.  Best efforts however, are putting policies and procedures in place to prevent issues in the first place.

Wall Street Journal Risk Report
Awareness, Training, Oversight Keys to Mitigating Food Safety Risks
February 25, 2016
By Ben DiPietro Biography

The recent food sickness problems at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.—the chain suffered an E.coli outbreak that led to restaurant closures in nine states and a norovirus outbreak that sickened 140 people in Boston–placed a spotlight on risks faced by companies that sell food.

Companies need strong food safety policies that are enforced, extensive employee training and messaging and regular checking of their supply chains through audits, and product testing to help mitigate their risks, according to food safety experts. Monitoring of social media for early-warning signals of possible foodborne illness issues can be helpful and should be done but won’t always help prevent or contain outbreaks, they said.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Raw Can Be Risky When it Comes to Nuts and Sprouts - Salmonella Related Recalls

Within the last week, there have been recalls of raw nuts and raw sprouts and raw sprout products due to the potential for Salmonella after those products were tested and found to be Salmonella positive.  Surprising....not really.  Makes you feel like that infant in the e-trade commercial feigning a sense of shock at a very predictable outcome.

Raw sprouts and raw nuts are a risk for pathogenic organisms like Salmonella.  There are no significant pathogen reduction steps.  And although some may suggest testing as a control, it is hit or miss when there are low levels of contamination - so testing as verification but not as control.

Alfalfa Sprouts -

Raw Macadamia Nuts -

Spouted Chia and Flaxseed -

Raw pistachios

The Packer
UPDATED: Sprouts in KS, OK linked to salmonella illnesses
By Doug Carder February 22, 2016 | 1:11 pm EST

Corrugated Packaging Process Sufficient to Eliminate Pathogenic Bacteria

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) sponsored a study that evaluated the impact of the corrugation process on bacterial pathogens.  The study found that the high temperatures used (180 to 200ºF were sufficient to achieve a 5 log reduction of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.  We normally would not have considered corrugated boxes an issue, well, now here is the documented proof.
If you want this study for your validation files, you can download that document here.

Corrugated Packaging Alliance
ITASCA, IL (FEBRUARY 2, 2016) – A new study shows the process of combining linerboard and medium to make corrugated packaging is sufficient to destroy common food pathogens, effectively meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements for chemical sanitizers.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheese Processor Expands Recall of Cheese with Potential for Listeria

Maytag Dairy Farms expanded its recall to include additional lots of cheese that may be contaminated with Listeria.  This initial recall, posted on February 14th, was expanded to one other lot on February 18th and then additional lots were added to the recall on February 19th.  

Unfortunately, this issue, the expanding recall or recall creep, has been seen with other Listeria related recalls.  It starts when a lot of product is recalled in reaction to a Listeria positive sample - it could be product or product contact sample. But once the regulatory folks start poking around, the realization comes that the company does not have a solid understanding of how well they are controlling Listeria.  This is not to say they were not doing Listeria testing,  but the testing program was not providing sufficient data to establish a sense of control.

On the other hand, there are examples of companies who have had recalls, but upon analysis of their faculties, the assessment is made that the positive sample was a aberration based on a solid Listeria control program (sanitation SSOPs, process control, and verification testing.)

FDA Recall Notice
Maytag Dairy Farms Voluntarily Recalls Blue Cheese Products Due to Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release

February 19, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Canada - CFIA Announces Recall of Canteloupes Due to Salmonella

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that Freshpoint of Vancouver is recalling Del Monte and Sysco cantaloupes after the Agency tested and found positive Salmonella samples.  There have been no injuries to date.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Recall Notice
Food Recall Warning - Del Monte and Sysco Imperial Fresh brand cantaloupes distributed by Freshpoint Vancouver, Ltd. recalled due to Salmonella

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pecorino Cheese Wrapped in Walnut Leaves Recalled for Listeria

Whole Foods and Forever Foods are recalling Pecorino Aged Cheese wrapped in Walnut Leaves after Forever Foods completed testing and found the sample positive for Listeria.

Wood In Cheese? Not really.

A story on the web has raised an issue - wood in cheese, and this is resulting in more fear mongering than something for concern. The story states that there is wood in cheese and then uses a 2012 case of food fraud with cheese to make the point.

First, while cellulose is found in trees, it is also found in all plant tissue including fruits and vegetables. In cheese, powdered cellulose is used as an anti-clumping agent and is / should be declared on the label when used. In the end, grated cheese manufactures are not putting wood in cheese, it is powered cellulose, and this is 'generally recognized as safe' , or GRAS....but not grass (humor). Powdered cellulose is a good material for use as an anti-clumping agent in grated cheese - it provides stability of both the oil and water phases of the cheese.

According to the Bloomberg report, they tested a number of cheeses and found that some had higher levels of cellulose than the 2 to 4% that is normally used. As far as I can find, there is no established limit for powdered cellulose in cheese listed in the Code of Federal Regulations. In their investigation, some cheese samples were up to 7 or 8% cellulose. If true, that would be high, but this was not a scientific, peer reviewed study.

The 2012 case was that of a PA manufacturer of cheese who was using cheaper cheeses to make grated parmesan cheese. This is a no no. The manufacturer went out of the business in 2014 and according to reports, "Castle President Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. She faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine." This cheese is no longer on the market, so no need to rifle through your refrigerator in search of fake parmesan from this company.

No doubt, food fraud is a big issue. Olive oil is the poster child for food fraud. With cheese, hopefully manufacturers are using powdered cellulose prudently, but in the end, it is just fiber (pun that is humor). But if you are worried about it, the solution is easy...grind your own cheese. You will have a better product and you will save the earth from excess packaging.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Blue Cheese Recalled for Listeria

An Iowa cheese maker is recalling its Raw Milk Blue Cheese after the Iowa Department of Ag discovered Listeria during routine testing.  The facility is recalling on lot, produced on January 6th (over one month ago).  There have been no reported illnesses.

An issue that can be seen in these cases is that when one lot is contaminated with Listeria, there is always a good chance that other lots can potentially be contaminated, especially if the facility does not have good environmental controls for Listeria in place.

Newtown Daily News
Maytag Dairy farms announces listeria recall
Fareway of Newton had some blue cheese from lot; Hy-Vee did not
Published: Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 9:34 p.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 9:39 p.m. CST

Maytag Dairy Farms of Newton announced a voluntary recall Saturday of an 896-pound of blue cheese due to possible listeria contamination.

The foodmaker announced lot number 150481 of Maytag Raw Milk Blue Cheese could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled product was packaged on Jan. 6 and was then distributed to several locations in central Iowa.

Smoked Seafood Processor Shut Down for Insanitary Conditions

A processor of 'high end' smoked seafood products was shut down for unsanitary conditions.  This came after 'a decade' of issues.  This facility's product was used by a number of notable restaurants and the facility had won some awards. (Company website).

Vacuum packaged smoked salmon is a pretty risky product if not done right.  First, it can be a Clostridium botulinum risk if not properly processed, which was one of the issues according to reports..  Listeria is also a risk if it contaminates the product in the time after smoking and before packaging.  The facility had that issue in the past which had resulted in a recall.

This seems to be a good brand to add to the 'do not eat' list.

Portland Press Herald
Maine seafood company shut down for food safety violations

Sullivan Harbor Farm in Hancock had been warned for more than a decade that its manufacturing of smoked salmon was unsanitary, the U.S. Justice Department says.
BY BETH QUIMBY STAFF WRITER | @QuimbyBeth | 207-791-6363

A high-end Hancock seafood company has been shut down for repeated unsanitary conditions and food safety violations, including manufacturing in the presence of rodent excrement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Canned Stew Product Recalled for Potentially Uncovered Parts form Broken Flashlight

Hormel is recalling 450 lbs of Dinty Moore Beef Stew "After discovering and recovering parts of a flashlight from the production area".  While they captured most of the suspected product, 40 cases seemed to have escaped the facility.  While this case will not get a lot of press, there is a lot that can be learned.

First is escalation of bad luck - bad enough to have a flashlight break and potentially get into product, but then, the failure to capture all the product so it does not get into commerce.  Are you thinking someone went back to count the cases a few weeks latter and discovered that they were a little short?  If it had been shipped the day the issue was discovered, wouldn't the recall have been made the same day. 

Control of tools - not sure if this is a maintenance flashlight or one that belongs to quality, but most probably not someone working in production.  It is important that these support groups understand the importance of accounting for tools as they work.  That includes keeping control of them as they work, and ensuring that they have collected them at the end.

Control of held product - During a corrective action procedure, reconciliation of held product is critical.  That is, the actual amount of tagged in the hold area is consistent with the amount that was supposed to be held?  Interesting to note that two weeks passed from the day of the incident, so was this the first verification?

Escalation of cost - the longer it takes for corrective action, the higher the cost.  We will make some assumptions to demonstrate this point, costs based upon product cost at retail and can weight.
  • Breaking a flashlight - less than $10
  • Breaking a flashlight and stopping the line before it gets into the can - assuming 500 lbs of product at $0.30/lb for in-process product = $150.  There would be costs associated with shutting the line done for clean up as well.
  • Breaking a flashlight and not discovering it until product is in the can - assuming that there were 10 pallets of finished product (60 cases per pallet) at a manufacturing cost of $0.65 per can = $4680.  There would be a disposal cost to include as well. 
  • Shipping 40 cases of that product by accident  = So there is the $4368 for the product that was not shipped, but now there are charges for that shipped product at store level.  With a price of $2.08 per can (which the store will charge the company) plus 20% handling fee assessed by the store, and it is unlikely that the store chain will only recover just that particular code once it hits the shelf, so the store will likely remove 3X the this will cost 3600 on top of the $4368 or a total of $7968.  This does not include any fines the store may charge back to the facility.
  • So this went from  a couple hundred dollars to eight thousand dollars or so, and this could very well be an underestimate.
  • If the broken flashlight went unnoticed, or no notification was made, and USDA had complaints about foreign objects in canned product - that would result in a recall of at least a day's production. which at that point, would mean that product would all be at store level in terms of distribution.  Costs at this point could range widely, perhaps up to 50K.  Add any costs associated with  injury to a person and the legal fees.  Punitive damages could also be assessed especially if the incident was found to be concealed by plant personnel.

FSIS Recall Notice
Hormel Foods Corporation Recalls Beef Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class II Recall015-2016
Health Risk: LowFeb 9, 2016

En Español
Congressional and Public Affairs Maria Machuca  (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2016 – Hormel Foods Corporation, a Tucker, Ga. establishment, is recalling approximately 450 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The Dinty Moore Beef Stew items were produced on Jan. 26, 2016. The following product is subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF Only)]
15-oz. cans of “Dinty Moore Hearty Meals No Preservatives Beef Stew” with Best By date Feb. 2019 and production date T01266.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 199G” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to Kroger locations in Texas and Louisiana. Product was available for sale after Feb. 1, 2016.

The problem was discovered during the plant’s routine inspection activities. After discovering and recovering parts of a flashlight from the production area, the company placed all product produced during this timeframe on hold. However, 40 cases had already been shipped into commerce.

Bacon Fritters Recalled After One Complaint for Extraneous Plastic Piece

An Illinois company is recalling 25,000 lbs of bacon fritters due to a consumer complaint for a piece of plastic.  There have been no injuries and it seems to be one complaint.

Hopefully the piece of plastic was verified as coming from the plant and an investigation led to the conclusion that there is a good probability of more plastic being in product.  Otherwise, a knee-jerk reaction by an inspector can be costly.

FSIS Recall Notice
McCain Foods USA, Inc. Recalls Pork Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall016-2016
Health Risk: HighFeb 12, 2016

Congressional and Public Affairs Benjamin Bell (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, Feb.12, 2016 – McCain Foods USA, Inc., a Lisle, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 25,215 pounds of bacon fritters that may be contaminated with extraneous plastic materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The potato, egg, cheese, and bacon fritters were produced on Nov. 11, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:
1,681 cases bearing a batch code 1001487402 containing four 3.75-lb. plastic vacuum-packed packages containing “McCain EARLY RISERS Potato, Egg, Cheese & Bacon Fritters.”

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 18846” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to food service distributors in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and Utah.

The problem was discovered after the firm received a consumer complaint and subsequently notified an in-plant FSIS inspector.

Raw Meal Organic Shake Recall Expanded as Ingredient Identified as Salmonella Source

Garden of Life expanded their previous recall of raw meal organic shakes.  The initial recall came a few weeks ago as a number of Salmonella cases were linked to the product.

The company has identified the source as organic Moringa Leaf powder. So what is moringa? Evdently, moringa oleifera, is a plant that is native to northern India, Pakistan, and Africa. It is said to have health benefits and has been used by a number of different cultures in traditional healing.  It is called the 'miracle tree'.  But not the Salmonella tree?  It is not different than other trees where birds land and do what birds do...or doodoo.  Since the leaves are considered raw, there would not be a heat reduction step, but there still should be something considered a bacterial reduction step.  Perhaps an antimicrobial wash?  Or is the leave powder treated?  Whichever, either the treatment was not completed properly, not done at all, or circumvented by post-process contamination.

FDA Recall Notice
Garden of Life Expands Voluntary Recall to Include Additional Lots of Raw Meal Products Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination
For Immediate Release
February 13, 2016

Consumers  (866)211-9058
Media Rhonda Price (561)371-9407


Garden of Life LLC is expanding its January 29th voluntary recall to include additional lots of its Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal Chocolate, Original, Vanilla and Vanilla Chai products because an ingredient used in certain lots of the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Virchow. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection withSalmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. If you have symptoms or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Friday, February 5, 2016

An Adage on the Appreciation of Prevention as Applied to Food Safety

The goal of food safety professionals is to prevent food safety issues for any facility or product in their purview. Unfortunately, these efforts often go unnoticed, and over time, are can be taken for granted. This passage by Thomas Cleary in the introduction to his translation of Sun Tzu's Art of War (The Art of War: Complete Text and Commentaries, 2003) fits this well.
According to an old story, a lord of ancient China once asked his physician, a member of a family of healers, which of them was the most skilled in the art.
The physician, whose reputation was such that his name become synonymous with medical science in in China, replied, “My eldest brother sees the spirit of sickness and removes it before it takes shape, so his name does not get out of the house.”
“My elder brother cures sickness when it is still extremely minute, so is name does not get out of the neighborhood. “
“As for me, I puncture veins, prescribe potions, and massage skin, so from time to time, my names gets out and is heard among the lords.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Report Summary - Consumer Trends in the Food Industry - Shifting Consumer Value Drivers

A collaboration of industry associations sponsored Deloitte to conduct a survey on consumer food purchasing trends, and now, the report from that survey is making the rounds in the media.  Here is a quick summary of that report, taken directly from the report (Here is the direct link to the that report -  Commentary is placed in [ ].
  • The food and beverage processing industry has exhibited stagnant growth over the past several years.
  • Consumer buying decisions on food are not only based upon the traditional drivers of taste, price, and convenience, but now include 'evolving drivers' of  health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience, and transparency.
  • There is a general distrust of larger food companies.
  • The information [or misinformation] for these evolving drivers likely comes from social media, mobile applications, and digital sources.
  • Evolving drivers:
    • Of these, wellness and health is most important.  It is also the most complex and varies for each category [understandable if you consider that the information gleaned from the web varies from the scientific to the bat-crap crazy...and can change suddenly as news reports are generated supporting or bashing specific foods or ingredients].  So there is no set definition of wellness.  And consumer will pay more for what they perceive as providing that.
    • Safety considers both short-term as well as long term implications, which interplays with wellness and  health.  Certainly free from harmful elements, but also clean labeling and  trustful sourcing.  Retailers will be relied on to play a bigger role in ensuring safety.
    • Social impact comes into play as small vocal groups can impact larger groups with their message - commitment to food safety, fair treatment of workers, local, values, environmental responsibility....political views.  About 1/4 of those surveyed indicated their choice are impacted by this - millennials and more wealthy [those who consider themselves a hipster] 
    • Experience - people look to have an experience shopping...looking for the new, interesting, and undiscovered.  A term to know is consumer engagement.
    • Transparency - people want access to whatever way they want to get that information (website, stores, etc)
  • Implications - an increasing fragmented marketplace with people wanting more information, thus putting demands on retailers and desire for smaller [perceived as local] companies.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Better Understanding Needed on Use of Oilfield Water to Irrigate Crops in Drought Stricken California

Questions are being raised about the use of  water from oilfields for irrigation water in California.  California has been in a drought since 2011 and community water systems have had to utilize more of this reclaimed water.  Unfortunately for the fruit industry, activists have publically decried certain brands / producers without much information to support claims.

Clearly, there needs to be more transparency on actual use as well as more knowledge about the actual risks.  One question - why was an extensive study not already completed by a government agency sooner?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Norovirus Sickens Hundreds at Dinner Theatre, Clean-Up Costly

A Kansas City dinner theatre was the site this past month of a huge norovirus outbreak.  Between Jan 15th and Jan 19th, more than 600 attendees and employees became ill.  The theatre company spent some $40,000 to clean/disinfect the location in order to mitigate the virus.

The source of the norovirus is not known, so it could have been a patron or an employee.  Food is served buffet style so the buffet tables could have easily served as a contamination point.

Incidents like this are reminders of how contagious norovirus is and how difficult it can be to control in these types of settings.  (Give me another reason to avoid buffet style service).

Kansas City Star
New Theatre Restaurant spends $40,000 on cleanup after more than 600 sickened
February 1, 2016 5:34 PM
By Joyce Smith

CDC Issues Final Report on Chipotle E. coli Outbreak

The CDC issued the final report indicating that there have been no further E. coli O26 illness associated with the outbreak.  Overall, 60 people were infected in 14 states with 22 requiring hospitalization.

 Chipotle has taken a beating, with it stock price dropping 33% over the past year.  It went up 4.8% on Monday.  Chipotle stated that it will close for a few hours (11AM to 3PM) on February 8th in order to do a company wide staff meeting where executives will answer questions.  This does not appear to be a food safety training event as much as it is an opportunity to let employees executives are engaged on food safety.
CDC Outbreaks
Multistate Outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 Infections Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants (Final Update)
Posted February 1, 2016 12:00 PM ET

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dry Organic Shake Powders Recalled Due to Potential for Salmonella

Garden of Life is recalling its RAW Organic Meal Shakes due to the potential to be contaminated by Salmonella.  As reported by the Minnesota Department of Health, there is as many as 8 cases in 7 states.

The company seems to be taking the approach that their product is not to blame. “In an overabundance of caution we are taking this extreme measure because we want to ensure that you never have to wonder about the purity of any Raw Meal product.” said Brian Ray, President of Garden of Life.  In their release published by FDA, they state that all product is tested.

Upon evaluating the ingredient statement (pic below), we see that there is sprouted seed sprout items present.  If it is indeed raw, it can be the source of Salmonella.  Testing is not full proof, especially when there are low levels of the contaminate.  Even with large sample size testing, it may be difficult to find contamination levels below 1%.  It is important to remember that Salmonella can survive in dry products like this for months or even years.

Cottage Food Laws - Sidestepping Food Safety Regulations

Many states are enacting Food Cottage Laws to enable people to sell food that they made in their own kitchen without any oversight by government health and safety professionals.  The intended goal is to help support budding food entrepreneurs and support the local economy.  But at what cost? 

One example is the recently passed Cottage Food Laws of Idaho. The law does limit the type of food to non-potentially hazardous foods (excluding low acid and acidified canned foods) so the risk is lower, however there is little in the regulation that address food safety including the condition of the kitchen in which the food is handled and prepared.  Once made, the food can be sold through a number of channels including farmers' markets and online.