A supplier for Starbucks is recalling pre-packaged breakfast sandwiches after that supplier had positive sample result on a food contact surface. While product did not test positive, a positive contact surface indicates the possibility that product could have been cross contaminated.
In assessing the risk, there are a few things to note. For one, the sandwich is shipped and stored frozen. While this will prevent growth during shipment, if the product is thawed and held for a period of days before use, there can be time for the organism to grow. As the number of organisms increases, this not only increases the chances of organisms surviving a heat treatment, but it also increases the risk of cross-contamination to other foods and food contact surfaces within the store environment as that product is handled.
These sandwich products would be heated by the store before serving, potentially lowering the chance of contamination. However, with heat-and-serve product, the heating process may not be controlled well enough or be hot enough to ensure complete destruction of the organism.
The next question will be on how good the facility's Listeria Control Program is. If the program is good and this happens to be an outlier, than this recall may be it. But if FDA finds little testing results to indicate a solid program, or they find a series of positive results with insufficient corrective action, they believe there is a higher risk and then push for additional recalls.
Sandwiches Recalled from Starbucks Stores Over Listeria Concerns
Mar 7 2016, 2:03 pm ET
by Lucy Bayly
A food supplier has recalled pre-packaged sausage, egg, and cheddar cheese on English muffin breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks stores in Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma over concerns that the products may contain traces of listeria.
The tainted products come from Progressive Gourmet, a Wilmington, Massachusetts, supplier, come in a six-ounce, clear plastic package, and are marked "Best Before: 07-AUG-2016."
The Seattle-based coffee chain has removed the sandwiches from all 250 stores that "potentially received it," notes the FDA in an online statement. The listeria was detected on a contact surface within the production facility, and Progressive Gourmet is "working closely with FDA and the Massachusetts Department of Health and continues to investigate the source of the problem," notes the FDA.
"As soon as we were made aware of a supplier issue with a specific lot of Sausage, Egg and Cheddar Breakfast sandwiches, we removed the impacted product from the select Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas area stores that carried it," a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News in an email on Monday. "The product itself has not tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No other products are affected because of this issue. We have not received any reports of illnesses to date."
Starbucks-goers who've already bought the sandwiches in affected states can return them at the coffee shop where they made the purchase.
Progressive Gourmet did not immediately respond to an NBC request for comment. Consumers who want more information can call Progressive Gourmet directly at 1-800-224-7630.
FDA Recall Notice
Progressive Gourment Inc. Issues Alert on Sausage Egg Cheese Muffin Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
March 4, 2016
Consumers Prressive Gourment Inc. 1-800-224-7630
View Product Photos
Progressive Gourmet Inc. of Wilmington, MA, is recalling its 6 ounce packages of Sausage, Egg, and Cheddar Cheese on English Muffin breakfast sandwiches manufactured for Starbucks Coffee Co. out of the abundance of caution because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The product comes in a 6 ounce, clear plastic labeled package marked with Best Before: 07-AUG-2016 on the top. Note, no other production runs of this product are impacted by this recall.
These potentially impacted sandwiches were possibly sold to consumers by select Starbucks stores in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma Starbucks Stores on 3/3/16 and 3/4/16. The sandwiches may be heated at the store level for immediate consumption.
This recall is limited to impacted 250 stores in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma only. (The recalled sandwiches were distributed to warehouses in Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Louisiana).
As soon as Starbucks was informed of this potential issue, the impacted product was removed from the 250 stores that potentially received it. The scope of this issue is limited to these stores.
The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by the company revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes on a contact surface within the production facility.
No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this product.
Progressive Gourmet is working closely with FDA and the Massachusetts Department of Health and continues to investigate the source of the problem.
Consumers who have purchased 6 ounce packages of the sandwich are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-224-7630 (9:00 am-5:00 pm Monday through Friday EST).