Friday, May 20, 2016

SunOptima, Source of Sunflower Seed Recall for Listeria, Expands Original Recall, Forces Downstream Packers to Expand Recalls

SunOptima is expanding their sunflower seeds w/ Listeria recall. The initial recall was produced at their Minnesota facility in the month of February. The time frame of production recall now extends from February through April 21, the date at which the plant was closed.
It never seems to be a Listeria recall without having an expansion of that recall. This occurs when companies realize that they did not have real control of the organism, whether that is a contaminate within the processing environment or within purchased raw materials. Since sunflower seeds are roasted and de-hulled, it would lead one to believe it was post roasting contamination.
The process of making sunflower seed is similar to other processing of nut. For a nice review of the process, you can visit 'How Products are Made.  Here are the highlights from that review"
Sunflower seed production begins in early spring when the fields are prepared and the seeds are planted.
  1. Sunflowers are ready to harvest when the black part of their heads turns brown. In the United States this is generally in late September or October. A special device collects the sunflower heads          
  2. The seeds are rapidly dried to under 10% moisture content and then stored in grain elevators.
  3. At the processing plant, they are emptied onto wire screens and shaken to remove dirt, inspected, and further cleaned.
  4. The seeds are then passed on to sizing screens which separate them by size.
  5. Large sized seeds go to snack food sunflower seeds are transferred through large ovens to dry roasted, reducing the moisture level in the seed further. The medium sized seeds are first sent through de-hulling machines which remove their shells. They are then roasted in oil
  6. The seeds are then flavored as desired. This can be done by an enrobing process - running the warm seeds from the roasters into a large, rotating container where combined with oil the flavoring ingredients.
  7. The seeds are then packaged with a focus on reducing oxidation that would promote rancidity.
The interesting thing is that one would expect that this would be a dry process, not noted for being the typical environment where Listeria would be found.
FDA Recall Notice
Expanded Recall Period of Certain Sunflower Kernel Products Due to Possible Contamination By Listeria monocytogenes
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2016

Consumers Customer Service   888-886-4428
Media Rob Litt  952-893-7863

TORONTO – As a precaution, SunOpta expanded its voluntary recall of a limited number of sunflower kernel products that have the potential to be contaminated with 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 initial recall was limited to sunflower kernel products produced at SunOpta’s Crookston, Minn. facility between the dates of February 1, 2016 and February 19, 2016. The expanded recall includes products produced February 20, 2016 through April 21, 2016, the date on which the facility ceased production of the products. No illnesses have been confirmed related to the consumption of this product.

Recalled retail items were sold in clear printed plastic packages and are marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages. Listed below are details regarding the recalled items:

Recalled products were distributed to distribution centers during the months of March and April 2016 in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas and may be redistributed to other states nationwide.

Consumers are urged not to consume these products. Consumers who purchased these products may take them back to the store where they purchased them for a refund or simply discard them. Consumers seeking information may email or call 1-888-886-4428 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Retailers and wholesale customers should check their inventories and shelves to confirm that none of the recalled products are present or available for purchase by consumers or in warehouse inventories. Please contact SunOpta at to arrange for disposal or return of the product.

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Company provided the following statement:

“SunOpta is committed to ensuring consumer safety and providing quality products and ingredients to customers. The Company has completed its root cause analysis and is working with food safety experts to implement corrective and preventative measures. In an abundance of caution, SunOpta is voluntarily extending the period during which it is recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.”

About SunOpta
SunOpta Inc. is a leading global company focused on organic, non-genetically modified ("non-GMO") and specialty foods. SunOpta specializes in the sourcing, processing and packaging of organic and non-GMO food products, integrated from seed through packaged products; with a focus on strategic vertically integrated business models. SunOpta's organic and non-GMO food operations revolve around value-added grain, seed, fruit and vegetable based product offerings, supported by a global sourcing and supply infrastructure.

FDA Recall Notice
TreeHouse Foods Expands Voluntary Product Recall Due to Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
May 19, 2016

ConsumersConsumer Affairs 800-756-5781
MediaRon Bottrell 312-446-6595


OAK BROOK, Ill. - TreeHouse Foods, Inc. (NYSE: THS) today expanded its voluntary recall of products containing sunflower kernels which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L.mono).

This follows the announcement on May 18, 2016, by our supplier SunOpta of its expanded recall of sunflower kernels which have the potential to be contaminated with L. mono.

L.mono is 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.

Product was distributed nationwide through retail stores. The additional products being recalled as part of the expansion are listed below. Consumers can find UPC codes and Best By/Date Codes on each package.
Product Listing

No illnesses have been confirmed to date.

Pictures of the products listed above will be available on the TreeHouse Foods website.

Consumers who have purchased any of the above products are urged to dispose of or return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with any questions may call 1.800.756.5781, Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (CST).

TreeHouse Foods, Inc. is a manufacturer of packaged foods and beverages with more than 50 manufacturing facilities across the United States, Canada and Italy that focuses primarily on private label products for both retail grocery and food away from home customers. We manufacture shelf stable, refrigerated, frozen and fresh products, including beverages and beverage enhancers (single serve beverages, coffees, teas, creamers, powdered beverages and smoothies); meals (cereal, pasta, macaroni and cheese and side dishes); retail bakery (refrigerated and frozen dough); condiments (pourable and spoonable dressing, dips, pickles, soups and sauces) and healthy snacks (nuts, trail mix, bars, dried fruits and vegetables). We have a comprehensive offering of packaging formats and flavor profiles, and we also offer natural, organic and preservative free ingredients in many categories. Our strategy is to be the leading supplier of private label food and beverage products by providing the best balance of quality and cost to our customers.

Additional information, including TreeHouse's most recent statements on Forms 10-Q and 10-K, may be found at TreeHouse's website,

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