Vegetable soup is normally a low acid product, (finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85). To make this product, a manufacturer must follow the Low Acid Canned Food Regulations (LACF) which requires that a firm have an established process and that process is filed. Generally, small firms are limited to canning high acid foods or acidified foods that have a pH of 4.6 or less.
In this case, the product was close to the pH of 4.6 so perhaps their goal was having an acidified food where the acid portion, perhaps a tomato base and some added acid, was expected to reduce the pH below 4.6. However, this was not being achieved. Another important element is that it is the particulates in the soup that must also reach an equilibrium pH of less than 4.6....not just the broth. (Hard to tell what was actually being measured from the report).
It is important for small firms to understand canning regulations. This is not the first instance of a company producing low acid foods - whether they did not know the regulations, or the process they used did not achieve the pH they wanted. This can be an issue with small firms who want to make products for sale at farmers' markets.
FDA Recall Notice
Mary's Home Canning Recalls Mary's Home Made Vegetable Soup Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
April 15, 2016
Consumers Mary's Home Canning 717-442-8349
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Mary's Home Canning of Lancaster, PA is recalling 516 jars of Mary's Homemade Vegetable Soup (Net Wt. 16 OZ) and 1,128 jars of Mary's Homemade Vegetable Soup (Net Wt. 32 OZ), because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.
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 other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.
Mary's Homemade Vegetable Soup (Net Wt. 16 OZ) and (Net Wt. 32 OZ) was distributed in PA, MD and DE in retail stores and farmer's markets.
These products were packaged in clear glass jars with white screw top lids in pint-size and quart-size varieties. The label of the jar reads in part: "Mary's Home Made Vegetable Soup...Heat and Serve...829-A Strasburg Road, Paradise, PA 17562." No codes or expiration dates are present on these products.
No illnesses have been reported to date.
The potential for contamination was noted after FDA testing found that the pH of the product was high and it did not receive an adequate process time or temperature.
Anyone with a product fitting the above description should return the product to where it was purchased, if possible, or call Mary's Home Canning at 717-442-8349 for return instructions. Phone calls should be made during Eastern Standard Time.