Monday, February 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Unsweetened Apple Sauce Recalled After Complaints for Glass

A California company is recalling three types of Trader Joe's Unsweetened Apple Sauce after the company received three complaints for glass.

The problem with packing in glass is the potential for breakage.  Manufacturing companies go to great lengths to prevent the risk of broken glass in the jars.  The biggest risk comes when jars break in the manufacturing process.  Commonly, jars within an potentially affected radius are removed from the manufacturing line when breakage occurs, and the whole area is cleaned and inspected.

Many manufacturers have moved away from glass to plastic.  Although glass is generally considered superior to plastic in terms of preserving flavor (cooling is faster, no oxygen transmission, etc), plastic does remove the broken glass risk.

FDA Recall Notice
Manzana Products Co., Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Apple Sauces Due to Potential Presence of Foreign Material
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ready-made Salads Recalled Due to Potential Listeria Contamination of Cheese Ingredient

Ready Pac's three production facilities (CA, GA, NJ) are recalling one type of salad due to the potential for Listeria in the Pepper Jack Cheese Ingredient that was used in the salad.  The company stated the recall was conducted after they were notified by their cheese supplier of the issue.  The name of the cheese company was not made available in the release.

USDA News Release
Ready Pac Foods Inc. Recalls Chicken Salad Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
Class I Recall 015-2017
Health Risk: High Feb 22, 2017

Congressional and Public Affairs Kristen Booze (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2017 – Three Ready Pac Foods Inc. establishments, located in Swedesboro, N.J., in Jackson, Ga., and the headquarters establishment in Irwindale, Calif., are recalling approximately 59,225 pounds of one variety of chicken salad product that may be adulterated withListeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PA Cheese Company Receives FDA Warning Letter - More Listeria Control Improvement Needed

In September '16, a Pennsylvania cheese company issued a recall after product was found to contain Listeria.  In December, after FDA audited the firm, FDA issued a  consumer warning against consuming product from this company.   This week, FDA issued a Warning Letter to the company in response to how the company fixed (?) the issues.

From the company responses as written in this Warning Letter, the company does not understand the fundamentals of Listeria control.  As we have seen in so many cheese-related Listeria outbreaks, the lack of control can lead to serious consequences.  Hopefully, this company is not back into production.  These owners need to get some real education on Listeria control.

FDA findings, Company Response, FDA Response, Notes
Environmental swabs 18 of 50 positive for LM
3 of those positive samples were from food contact surfaces
 - The top of the cheese slicer
 - The cheese slicer string
 - The inside of a plastic crate used to store finished cheese before packaging
One positive product sample  - RTE feta cheese (FDA sample 969273).

1. There were a number of GMP violations found in the audit and addressed within the response.
, - the lift arm and bowl support brackets of the (b)(4) mixer contained areas which appeared to be rusted and contained rough surfaces. 
 - the beater shaft housing area of the (b)(4) mixer, directly above the bowl support brackets, was observed to contain areas which appeared to be rusted and contain food particulates and/or foreign matter. These areas are in close proximity and/or directly adjacent to food contact surfaces
 - The floors in the processing room and walk-in cooler were observed to be in disrepair, containing areas where the concrete is cracked, rough, and peeling [see 21 CFR 110.20(b)(4)]. 

The company responded that they were doing the following.
a) A floor mop is now being used to clean the production floor.
b) (b)(4) is used to clean and sanitize the cheese cloths.
c) An apparatus has been purchased for storage of production equipment.
d) The production area hose is hung up and off the floor.
e) The office area has been cleaned.
f) The (b)(4) mixer has been cleaned, and the rusted surfaces have been repaired.
g) The floors of the processing room and walk-in cooler have been repaired.
FDA indicated that they will review these changes upon re-inspection, 

Note - FDA did not ask the company for verification support to show that these changes had any impact on the Listeria contamination in the facility  I see some issues here in the company responses 1) a floor mop to clean the production floor - really?  That is more likely to spread Listeria - basically a contaminated swab...a very large swab.  2) How were the floors repaired? 3) How did they change their cleaning procedures - both daily for equipment and procedures for the facility?

2. Another area for concern was pest control.  FDA listed these issues.
a) Greater than twenty flies landing on the floor, food processing equipment, food processing utensils, and other food contact surfaces and non-food contact surfaces.
b) Three fly catcher tapes containing multiple flies hanging in different areas of the processing room.
c) Dead flies on the window sills near the batch pasteurizer and three bay sink areas.

The company responded that the company 'installed “new fly catcher tapes . . . and will purchase a fly zapper.”   FDA rightly noted that this corrective action is "inadequate because it does not prevent insects and/or other pests from entering the facility and does not address why the insects have entered your facility. The regulation at issue requires that pests be prevented from entering any area of a food plant and does not permit that pests be killed in close proximity of food production areas."

Note - Fly tape as a corrective action?  Seriously? Who uses fly tape in a food production facility?

In the third item, FDA noted in their inspection that the grounds in which the facility was located had some major issues.
a) Live chickens and pigs coming within approximately one foot of the main door to the production facility and what appeared to be remnants of dead chickens and goats in close proximity to the production facility.
b) Multiple items within approximately twenty feet of the outside perimeter to your production facility which may constitute an attractant, breeding place, and harborage areas for pests, including, but not limited to, a chicken coop, an abandoned truck, a small four-wheeled loader, wood paneling, vegetation over six feet tall, and other small items which appear to be refuse.

The company's response stated that that they cleaned the area and added stone along the drive. However, they did not address the livestock and other animals in proximity to the production area and how those animals would be maintained. The company did not confirm that each item observed around the perimeter of your facility was addressed and corrected for FDA review.

Note - The company does not seem to understand the impact of contamination control from the grounds and the animals on those grounds.  This is not only a concern for Listeria, but also for Salmonella and STEC E.coli.

FDA Warning Letters
Apple Tree Goat Dairy 2/10/17

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Uber-like Home Cooked Meals? Laws Provide Necessary Hurdles

In the NY Post, a Harvard Law Professor argues that current food laws are not conducive to food entrepreneurs who want to create the next Uber-type industry - home prepared meals.
"This is why people more often get sick by eating out than by eating at home. Even if the risk from home-cooked food were as high as or higher than that from restaurant-cooked food, the danger would have to be extraordinarily great to justify a ban.
Instead, home kitchens where food is prepared for sale should be held to separate standards that make sense for the enterprise. Many states already have cottage food laws that allow people to prepare and sell baked goods from home. In those states, the permits could simply be extended to allow the sale of cooked meals over the Internet"

First, a large majority of foodborne illness cases do occur in the home.  While reported cases of illness do not show this, we recognize that reported cases are more likely to be cases related to outbreaks where 2 or more people become ill from eating the same food.  However, the vast majority of cases go unreported with many of these being sporadic cases where one person becomes ill, and it is probable that a good majority of these sporadic cases occur from home practice.

Studies have shown that the many consumers don't have the best practices, including 1) are prone to have cross contamination issues in their kitchen, 2) don't have their refrigerators set at the right temperature, and 3) don't use a thermometer.    What about those live-in 'intruders' making their way into the kitchen space...dogs, cats, and kids.  There have been many instances where food made in the home and then served outside the home have been disastrous.  Just last week, BBQ prepared in a home kitchen was responsible for 32 cases of Staph enterotoxin cases.

Unlike Uber where you get to inspect the car and the driver when it shows up, (and can jump out when things are not going right), you would not have the opportunity to inspect a person's kitchen, or their food handling and preparation skills.   Once you bit into the food, you are not necessarily going to be aware if the food was subject to cross contamination, if it hit the proper end point cooking temperature, or if it was properly stored from time it was prepared to the time it shows up at your door.

Can a concept like this work...sure, but within the laws.  It happened for trucks, maybe homes are next.  I can actually see a company that contracts home cooks to prepare meals.  They would work to make sure the people are properly trained (and have credentials to show) and that the kitchens receive the proper governmental inspections.  The company can help people get the right equipment, develop and implement proper procedures, and provide additional ongoing support and inspection.  The company would establish the internet ordering system (along with pictures of the people preparing the food and the kitchen space in which the food would be prepared).  The company would  then collect a percentage of the fees paid for the food.
One problem is the economics.  Kitchensurfing and Ktichit,  similar concepts except the chef comes to your house, both failed.  The advantage in these cases is that the cooking space was the  customer's own kitchen.  Disadvantage, the need for chef's who were willing to perform their task for an audience, whereas in the concept above, the consumer would be more willing to accept a home cook.   The next and biggest issue is the obtaining the commercial license  for making prepared TCS foods for others.  The company would have to work with the local jurisdiction to determine how this could be achieved within the current regulatory restrictions.  No doubt there would be some costs that go into adapting a kitchen...but again, if it can be done in a truck, why not a kitchen...provided the kitchen meets required standards.

NY Post - Opinion
Regulations make it too hard to sell home-cooked food
By Jacob Gersen
February 21, 2017 | 5:01am

Monday, February 20, 2017

Cheese Re-packer Recalls Cheese With Potential Listeria Contamination.

The cheese re-packer involved in the recent cheese-Listeria recall is expanding their recall.  MDS foods posted a recall of cheese they packed for Deutsch Kase Haus on 2/11/17,  but as could have been predicted, MDS expanded their recall due to the potential for cross-contamination within their facility.  So a long list of cheese is being recalled by MDS to include cheese made by Deutsch Kase Haus as well as other cheese packed in their facility.  As was stated earlier, the State of Tennessee initially found Listeria in DKH product re-packed by MDS.

FDA Recall Notice
MDS Foods Inc, of Massillon, OH is Expanding the Current Recall to include Products Identified by Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC of Middlebury, Indiana from their 02/15/2017 Product Recall
For Immediate Release
February 17, 2017

Penn State helps to develop food safety training program in Armenia

Penn State News Release
Penn State helps to develop food safety training program in Armenia
Emily Bartlett
February 17, 2017

Penn State helps to develop food safety training program in Armenia

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A program developed by Penn State food scientists is training students in Armenia on food safety practices and procedures, with an eye toward improving the safety of the country's food supply chain — from crop production and processing to packaging, handling, marketing and consumption.

Catherine Cutter, professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Siroj Pokharel, postdoctoral researcher in food science, partnered with Virginia Tech to bring the Food Safety Systems Management Professional Certificate Program to the Agribusiness Teaching Center at the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education in Yerevan, Armenia.

FDA Issues Report Findings on Dog Food Facilities With Pentobarbitol Issue

After an Indiana firm recalled canned dog for Pentobarbitol, a euthanizing agent, FDA completed and released inspections for the producing facility, Evangers of Wheeling IL and a related pet food facility run by same family, Nutripack of Markham IL.  FDA testing found Pentobarbitol in products from both facilities and both companies conducted recalls of lots of dog food made with beef from the same supplier (Evangers and Against the Grain).

FDA stated in their report "In its recent press release announcing a limited product recall, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company, Inc. stated that the beef for its Hunk of Beef product came from a “USDA approved” supplier. However, the FDA reviewed a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier of “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef - For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption" and determined that the supplier’s facility does not have a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The meat products from this supplier do not bear the USDA inspection mark and would not be considered human grade. USDA-FSIS regulates slaughter of animals for human consumption only. Testing by USDA-FSIS of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef confirmed that the meat used in the product was bovine (beef)."

FDA issued 483 (inspectional observations) reports for both facilities [included below],  Both reports point out numerous sanitary issues within both facilities. Nothing noted in the reports relates to the issue at hand, but does point out poor execution of sanitary operations.  The company tag line - People Food for Pets - not exactly.

In a letter posted on their internet site (posted below), the company blames their supplier.
In a quick internet search, I came by this gem with support.

FDA News Release
FDA Cautions Pet Owners and Caretakers Not to Feed Certain Evanger’s or Against the Grain Canned Pet Foods Due to Adulteration with Pentobarbital
February 17, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Proposed Standardized Code Dating Terminology Makes Sense

The major food trade groups, FMI and GMA, are suggesting that manufacturers adopt standardized terminology in date coding.   They suggest either:
  • Best if used by - where date is limited by quality, but may be consumed after that date
  • Use by - where food safety may come into play, and should be thrown out
There are more and more date labels being used, including a recently recalled product that had an Enjoy By Date (which for this highly perishable product, should have been a Use By date.)

There are currently no legal requirements to have it stated in any particular way (with a few exceptions), but it makes sense for companies to try to adhere to some standard to make it easier for the consumer.  As part of Extension, we get tons of calls from consumers on date coding, and having this more defined will certainly be a help.

Food Safety Magazine
FMI, GMA Introduce Clearer Date Labels to Curtail Food Waste
By Staff

CDC Report - Outbreaks Associated with Imported Food

A report in Emerging Infectious Diseases investigated outbreaks associated imported foods.  "The proportion of US food that is imported is increasing; most seafood and half of fruits are imported. We identified a small but increasing number of foodborne disease outbreaks associated with imported foods, most commonly fish and produce. New outbreak investigation tools and federal regulatory authority are key to maintaining food safety."

Emerging Infectious Diseases
Volume 23, Number 3—March 2017
Outbreaks of Disease Associated with Food Imported into the United States, 1996–2014
L. Hannah Gould , Jennifer Kline, Caitlin Monahan, and Katherine Vierk
Author affiliations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (L.H. Gould, J. Kline); US Food and Drug Administration, College Park, Maryland, USA (C. Monahan, K. Vierk)
Highlight and copy the desired format. EID Gould L, Kline J, Monahan C, Vierk K.

Cheese Recall Due to Potential Listeria Contamination Continues to Cascade

The list of recalls linked to the Deutsch Kase Haus recall continue to grow.

February 16, 2017
Saputo Inc. Recalls Certain Gouda Cheese Products Due to Potential Contamination of Listeria Monocytogenes
Saputo Inc. (Saputo), is voluntarily recalling certain Gouda cheese products in the United States after having been notified by Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC of Middlebury, Indiana that some specialty Gouda cheese products that it supplied to Saputo’s Green Bay, Wisconsin facility may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

February 14, 2017
Guggisberg Cheese, Inc. Recalls Various Colby Type Cheeses due to Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination
Out of an abundance of caution and with an emphasis on its customers’ wellness and safety, Guggisberg Cheese Inc. is recalling various types of Colby type cheeses and sizes due to a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.
The affected products were manufactured both by Guggisberg Cheese, Inc. and by Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC under the Guggisberg label. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Biery Cheese Company Recalls Various Types Of Specialty Longhorn Colby Cheeses Due To Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination
February 16, 2017
Biery Cheese Co. is voluntarily recalling specialty Longhorn Colby cheese due to potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.
On 02-15-17 the firm was notified by Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC of Middlebury, IN that they supplied Biery Cheese with various type cheeses that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported to date.

From February 14, 2017 on this site:
More Cheese Products Recalled Due to Supplier of Colby Cheese Recall
Two firms are calling cheese-stuffed mushroom products for the potential to be contaminated by Listeria. All traces back to the recall by the Indiana supplier, Deutsch Kase Haus, after their Colby cheese product was found to be positive for Listeria.

From February 12. 2017 on this site which details initial recall
Sargento, Mijer and Sara Lee Recall Colby Cheese Products After Supplier Discovers Listeria Contamination Issue

Did Salmonella Cause the Collapse of the Aztec Empire?

An interesting read for the foodborne illness historians in Nature - Collapse of Aztec society linked to catastrophic salmonella outbreak.  Europeans brought many diseases to the New World including bubonic plague, chicken pox, pneumonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, influenza, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough.  This study which looked at  DNA of the stomach bacterium from burials in Mexico and discovered Salmonella Paratyphi C which causes a typhoid-like illness.  I think it is important to point out that the method will not pick up viruses (smallpox, influenza,and measles),   Is it likely that it was just one of a number diseases brought from Europe?

Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Collapse of Aztec society linked to catastrophic salmonella outbreak, copyright 2017
Collapse of Aztec society linked to catastrophic salmonella outbreak
DNA of 500-year-old bacteria is first direct evidence of an epidemic — one of humanity's deadliest — that occurred after Spanish conquest.
Ewen Callaway
16 February 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spiral-Cut Vegetable Product Recalled After Sample Tests Positive for Listeria

A Texas firm is recalling Butternut Spirals (a vegetable noodle) after testing found that a sample was positive for Listeria.  This product was distributed through Whole Foods in 9 different states.

Basically, this product is just vegetables that are shredded into noodles.  The label indicates that it could be cooked, but also can be eater raw.  It is sold as a refrigerated item with an stated Enjoy By date listed, and in this case, February 23rd.  So one would guess that the shelf-life to be at least 10 days, but probably longer because of wide distribution.

This is an excellent of example of a Listeria prone product...refrigerated, ready-to-eat, long distribution chain, vegetables with neutral pH,  no preservatives. and finely cut (so equipment that is more difficult to clean along with more surface areas on the product). 

While this is the only lot currently being recalled, there may be a good chance that additional production lots will be recalled.  Of course it may not be the case if a point source of contamination can be identified that would limit contamination to this one day.

Here is the company website   Organic.  Fresh.  Some cool dude.

FDA Recall Notice
Veggie Noodle Co. Recalls Butternut Spirals Due to Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More Cheese Products Recalled Due to Supplier of Colby Cheese Recall

Two firms are calling cheese-stuffed mushroom products for the potential to be contaminated by Listeria.  All traces back to the recall by the Indiana supplier, Deutsch Kase Haus, after their Colby cheese product was found to be positive for Listeria.

FDA Recall Notice
Country Fresh Recalls Various Cooking And Snacking Products Due To Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
February 13, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

FDA Updated Testing on Cucumbers and Hot Peppers Indicates Risk of Salmonella Contamination

FDA published an update of their cucumber and hot pepper testing.  "FDA has tested 1,328 cucumber samples (352 domestic, 976 imports), and 1,387 hot pepper samples (287 domestic, 1,100 imports). Of the cucumber samples, 27 tested positive for Salmonella (11 domestic, 16 imports), while the rest tested negative for the targeted pathogens. Of the hot pepper samples, 42 tested positive for Salmonella (1 domestic, 41 imports), and 1 tested positive for a strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli "
Cucumbers             Sampled          Positive               Percent Pos
Total                        1,328                    27                   2.03
Domestic                    352                    11                   3.12
Imported                     976                    16                   1.64

Total                        1.387                    42                   3.03
Domestic                    287                     1                    0.35
Imported                  1,100                    41                   3.73

These numbers show that cucumbers and peppers are subject to contamination.  Grown at ground level, it is easy for these items to become contaminated, and that contamination can spread through post-harvest procedures.
For consumers, this is a reminder that it is important to wash these items, especially if they are going to be eaten raw.

FDA Constituent Update
FDA Shares Data from Ongoing Sampling Program
Constituent Update
What’s New
February 13, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Canadian Firm Expands Recall of Baby Food After Reported Illness

A Canadian firm is expanding its recall of baby food.  The initial recall posted on February 3, 2017 for one product type.  Since that time, there have been reported illness(es), so the company has expanded the recall.  According to the news release, the issue was a " manufacturing error resulted in excess water in the product, which under certain circumstances could support the growth of Clostridium Botulinum and pose a health risk to consumers".   As an example of what could have happened, the acid component was over diluted with water and then when added, there was insufficient acid to lower pH to a safe range.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) News Release
Updated Food Recall Warning - PC Organics brand baby food pouches recalled due to potential presence of dangerous bacteria
Recall date:February 8, 2017 
Reason for recall:Microbiological - Clostridium botulinum 
Hazard classification: Class 1 
Company / Firm:Loblaw Companies 
Limited Distribution:National Extent of the distribution:
Retail Reference number:11182

Chicken and Pork Salad Products Recalled Due to Potentially Listeria Contaminated Cheese Ingredient

Taylor Farms is recalling its Chicken and Pork Salad products after they were notified by the supplier of the cheese ingredients, Sargento, that the cheese has the potential to have Listeria contamination. This recall is part of the Colby Cheese recall which originated with the recall by the supplier of Colby cheese to Sargento.

USDA News Release
Taylor Farms Recalls Chicken and Pork Salad Products Due To Possible Listeria Contamination
Class I Recall 012-2017
Health Risk: High
Feb 11, 2017

Sargento, Mijer and Sara Lee Recall Colby Cheese Products After Supplier Discovers Listeria Contamination Issue

Sargento, Meijer and Sara Lee are recalling their branded Colby cheese products after their Indiana-based supplier of  Colby, Deutsch Kase Haus, notified them of a potential Listeria contamination issue. There have not been any reported illnesses.

The recall began when the Tennessee Department of Agriculture sampled one of brands where the source was from Deutsch Kase Haus, but went through a middleman packaging operation,  MDS Food manufacturing facility in Tennessee.  It will be interesting to see if this contamination originated at teh MDS facility.  At the least, this MDS facility would need to worry about the fact that cross contamination could be an issue in that facility.  And while they recalled the Colby cheese product produced on the same line, to what degree do they need to worry about other cheese packed in that facility.

In general, the more post-process handling and processing that occurs,such as wtih slicing and packaging, the more opportunity there is for Listeria contamination.

Indianapolis Star
Sargento, Meijer recall cheese from Indiana-based manufacturer
Holly V. Hays , Published 8:35 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2017 | Updated 6:57 a.m. ET Feb. 11, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Pork BBQ Prepared by Volunteer is the Source of Staph Enterotoxin at Florida Science Fair

In Florida, a college sponsored science fair was the site of a foodborne illness outbreak with 32 reported cases of Staphylococcus aureus intoxication. Most of the cases were children. The source of the contamination was pork BBQ which was made by a volunteer.

Probably in this case, one could see the pork BBQ being prepared the day before, partially cooled, pulled, and then cooled and stored. A few factors that could be problematic if not done properly: 1) not cooling product temperature down to refrigeration temperature within the recommended amount of time, 2) not storing the product at refrigeration temperature, some time between after it was cooked and when it was served at the event and 3) pulling the meat in unsanitary fashion such as not using gloves. The cooling could be made difficult if the amount of product is large, going beyond the capacity of the volunteer's system. Contamination of the meat after cooking could come from a number of sources, but one concern would be from the volunteers themselves, especially if they were not using gloves.

This is a reminder of the need for volunteer food safety training. Preparing and handling large quantities of food can be difficult especially for the size of this event.   

As for organizations sponsoring these types of events, in the case a college in Florida, they need to have rules in place for how food can be sourced.

News 4 Jax
Cause of science fair food poisoning uncovered; it was the pork
Nearly 30 minors, some adults taken to hospital
By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Staff
Posted: 11:29 AM, February 09, 2017Updated: 11:29 AM, February 09, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NC Firm Expands Recall of Spreads Potentially Contaminated with Listeria

A North Carolina company is expanding its recall of spreads due to the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  Ruth's Salad posted the initial recall on February 2nd for 5 lots of product after NC Department of Agriculture sampled and found Listeria in one lot of product.  But like many other Listeria related recalls, there is good chance of expansion, primarily when the company discovers they may not have as good control as the thought (or they never knew).

Listeria monocytogenes is an environmental pathogen.  It can become persistent if it finds niches that are not adequately cleaned and sanitized.  These niches can be on equipment, or can be on floors, drains, etc.  It moves throughout the facility via a number of vectors including water, personnel, and movable equipment.  

Finding it in a product means the facility either had an ingredient with the organism (where that ingredient was added with no further kill step such as heating) or the organism made its way to a product contact area (located downstream from a kill step) such as piping, filling equipment, etc.. Recently, we saw where an ingredient supplier had an issue in their facility (cookie dough).  But in many of these cases where product is positive, it is within the facility's own environment.  In these cases, and especially when the facility does not have an active Listeria control program, it is hard to know the extent of the risk, and with that, are forced to expand the recall.

FDA Recall Notice
Ruth’s Salad Charlotte NC Expands Recall of Ruth’s Salads Pimento Spreads due to Possible Health Risk. May Contain Listeria monocytogenes
For Immediate Release
February 9, 2017

Allergen Label Error Results in Recall - Allergens in Product Listed as 'May Contain'

UPDATED 2/16/17
This recall, initiated on 2/8/17, was expanded to include product that went to various retail chains.  A label was presented in the last recall notice. While the ingredient statement is not presented in the notice, the front label is shown and this is a pre-printed label.

A Colorado company is recalling its pie product because the allergen statement was incorrect.  Instead of saying it 'contains almond and eggs, the statement on the package said 'may contain almonds and eggs'.  According to the FDA release - "The recall was initiated after it was discovered by the manufacturing facility that the almond and egg-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not have the correct product ingredient statement and allergen declaration. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary error in the packaging processes."

It is not stated whether the labels were preprinted or printed on demand on-site, but in either case, labels need to be always reviewed for errors such as this.  With pre-printed labels manufactured by someone else, labels should be evaluated upon receipt.   With in-house generated labels, more care is needed.  Modifications to a print-on-demand label need to be approved and reviewed.  Those modifying or reviewing labels must securitize every word, or as in this case, the word 'May' slipping into the allergen statement resulted in a recall.

FDA Recall Notice
Legendary Baking Issues Allergy Alert-Almonds and Egg in Salted Caramel Chocolate Almond Pie Allergens Declared but Listed Under “May Contain”
For Immediate Release
February 8, 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Canned Dog Food Recalled for Pentobarbital

An Indiana firm is recalling it canned dog food, Evanger's Hunk of Beef, after 5 dogs became ill with one passing a way.  A single lot of the product was found to have the sedative Pentobarbital.  The company is recalling 5 lots of material made in the same week of June, 2016 and from the same supplier's lot of material.  Product was sold in retails as well as on-line.  Distribution was to 5 different states.

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate used as a sedative, an anesthetic, and in higher does, as a way to euthanize.  It would be interesting to know how high the levels were in this in that the meat of slaughtered animal carried sufficient amount to affect the dogs eating the product.  The supplier of meat was said to be a USDA facility, one that company was used for 40 years.  Reading the company news release, it seems to suggest that a euthanized animal may have made its way into their meat supply.  Incredible considering this is such a high regulated chemical.  Hopefully FDA will release more information on this.

So pet food operations will need to add this one to their supplier checklist.

Interesting, the company's marketing line...People Food For Pets.  Yeah, maybe if your Dr. Kevorkian.

An interesting history of recalls for Evangers posted on Food Safety News.

FDA Recall Notice
Evanger’s Voluntarily Recalls Hunk of Beef Because Of Pentobarbital Exposure in one Batch of Food
For Immediate Release
February 3, 2017

Canadian Firm Recalls Baby Food for Clostridium botulinum Risk

A Canadian firm is recalling it Apple, Blueberry, and Green Pea baby food due to the potential for Clostridium botulinum.  The recall was issued after a consumer complaint was made.

Hard to say what the specific issue was based on the recall notice, but probably a swollen container. In these types of products, fruits not only hide the flavor of peas from the baby, but they also help to lower the pH / increase the acidity.  This allows a lower heat process.  Not sure if this the case here.

Canadian Food Agency News Release
Food Recall Warning - PC Organics brand Apple, Blueberry & Green Pea strained baby food recalled due to potential presence of dangerous bacteria
Recall date:February 3, 2017 
Reason for recall:Microbiological - Clostridium botulinum
Hazard classification:Class 1 
Company / Firm:Loblaw Companies 
Limited Distribution:National
 Extent of the distribution:Retail

Cookie Dough Company Shuts Down in Light of Listeria Contamination Issue

Aspen Hills, the cookie dough manufacturer with a Listeria contamination issue has decided to shut its operations.  In October, Aspen Hills product was found to contain Listeria by Blue Bell.  The company announced a recall which caused a number of customer companies to announce recalls. At which time FDA conducted an investigation and later issued a Warning Letter.

The Des Moines Register
Iowa cookie dough supplier shuts down after listeria outbreak
Associated Press 12:09 p.m. CT Feb. 2, 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017

NC Company Recalls Pimento Spread for Listeria Contamination

A North Carolina company is recalling it's pimento spread after NC Department of Agriculture discovered Listeria monocytogens in a random sample.  Product was shipped to 5 different states and there have been no reported illnesses.

At this time, the company is recalling only the lot where the State found the positive sample.  As seen in so many cases where there was Listeria monocytogenes contamination, the company will need to expand the recall if the facility is found not to have good controls in place.  If the issue is related to a specific ingredient used in this specific lot, then it may be just this lot.  However, if it is a equipment contamination issue or a contaminated ingredient used in multiple products, then there may be an expansion of this recall.

FDA Recall Notice
Ruth’s Salad Charlotte NC is Recalling Ruth’s Original Pimento Spread 7 oz Because of Possible Health Risk. May Contain Listeria Monocytogenes
For Immediate Release
February 2, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Super Bowl, Chicken Wings and Salmonella

During Super Bowl Sunday, people will eat approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings.  Food service outlets such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Wing Zone will sell 2 to 4 times the amount they normally sell.  For many consumers watching the game at home, they will prepare their own wings, probably for the first time.

Just as we worry about turkey preparation at Thanksgiving, chicken wing preparation on Super Bowl Sunday becomes a concern for foodborne illness.  Why?

  • Chicken parts have been found to contain more Salmonella than whole chickens.  While Salmonella is a concern, Campylobacter actually has a higher prevalence on chicken.
  • Food service operations will be handling a lot more chicken wings than they normally handle. This may increase the risk of undercooking or cross contamination during handling especially at peak times (such as an hour or two before kickoff).
  • People cooking chicken wings at home may also undercook them or contaminate them through mishandling.  This risk is increased when 1) people are doing it for the first time, 2) people are unskilled in the art of chicken wing preparation,  3) people are working with a larger quantity than they are normally use to handling, 4) people have enjoyed one-too-many adult beverages, and 5) a combination of these factors.

Now, we can't let the worry of bacterial contamination stop us from enjoying eating chicken wings during the Super Bowl and (although it would have been much more enjoyable if guys wearing the Black and Gold were playing), and we certainly don't want to have post-game worship sessions with the porcelain throne.  So here are some simple measures:

  • Make sure you wings are cooked. When cooking them yourself, check with a thermometer to ensure all wings have reached an internal temperature of 165F or higher..  When purchasing, make sure there is no pink and that the meat is not rubbery.  Better overcooked than undercooked.
  • If undercooked, do not eat.  The large amount of alcohol consumption will not save you and may reduce your ability to resist that savory, burning flavor.
  • If you have not cooked wings before, consider buying fully cooked wings and then all you have to do is properly reheat.  
  • If ordering wings at a foodservice establishment, whether ordering to eat there or to-go, order early. This will help you avoid the rush, and give you time to take corrective action if not properly cooked. 
  • If making wings, cook them earlier in the day,....before your guests arrive, before you consume beverages, and while you can concentrate on what you are doing.  With this, be sure to check the temperature and use clean surfaces for the cooked wings.

Other things to remember when handling food...., Keep foods at the right temperature if you will be serving for a number of hours...keep hot foods hot (>140F) and cold foods cold (<40F).  Make sure leftovers get into the refrigerator.  Do not let foods, especially cooked meat, sit out at room temperature for more than a hour or two.  Clean as you go to help prevent cross contamination.

USDA News Release
Beat Foodborne Illness this Super Bowl