Food

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year there are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. that occur as a result of contaminated food. Approximately 325,000 cases of food poisoning lead to hospitalization annually, with more than 5,000 deaths resulting from foodborne illness complications. While most cases of foodborne illness, commonly known as “food poisoning,” are not serious, the condition can be serious or even fatal for at-risk populations including children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Unsafe foods can include foods that are contaminated with pathogenic (infection-causing) bacteria such as E. coli, food products with undeclared allergens, or foods with toxic levels of certain chemicals or metals.

Food Recalls

The public does not often hear about recalled food products until months after the alert is issued, leaving them vulnerable to contaminated meat, fish, milk, peanut butter, spinach, or juices that still remain on retail shelves. Many times it is only high-profile food recalls that reach the media and the public, such as the E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach and beef, salmonella contamination in peanut butter in 2007 and again in 2009, and other large food recalls. Foods containing undeclared allergens are also frequently recalled when they are found to contain nuts, wheat, eggs, or other ingredients that can be dangerous if consumed by certain people with allergies.

Common Foodborne Bacteria

Food can be contaminated at any time during production, shipping, preparation, or storage. When food is contaminated by bacteria, parasites, or viruses and then ingested by consumers, it can cause a variety of foodborne illnesses, including diarrheal conditions, kidney failure, meningitis, botulism, permanent paralysis, or even death. Proper food safety measures must be taken to lower the risk of food contamination and foodborne illness.
Examples of bacteria that are often the cause of foodborne illness include:

  • Salmonella in eggs, poultry, meats, raw milk or juice, cheese, ice cream, cookie dough, seafood, fruit, vegetables, chocolate, peanut butter, pecans, and many foods containing contaminated hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) such as chips and spices
  • E.coli in undercooked hamburger or beef, unpasteurized milk or juice, vegetables, fruit
  • Staphylococcus aureus in milk, cheese, salty foods, sliced meat, poultry, sandwiches
  • Norovirus in shellfish, ready-to-eat foods such as salads and sandwiches, and other focally-contaminated foods
  • Listeria monocytogenes in hot dogs, cold cuts, poultry, sausage, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk
  • Clostridium perfringens in meats, gravy, and in food left at room temperature or on steam tables
  • Campylobacter jejuni in raw milk, raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or shellfish

American Pecan Co. Recalls Pecan Pieces

On February 26, 2010, American Pecan Co. of Yancey, Texas, announced a recall of all 1-pound bags of American Pecan Co. Pecan Pieces due to a potential for the products to be contaminated with Salmonella. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered Salmonella in the products during routine sampling.

The contaminated pecans consist of Ziploc-type bags labeled with “Pecan Pieces (Small, Medium, or Large) Ingredients: Shelled Pecans; Repacked by: American Pecan Co. P.O. Box 151 Yancey, Tx. 78886; Net weight 1-Lb. (16 oz.) 454 g. Might contain Pecan shells….” The products were sold to walk-up customers in Yancey, Texas, and to mail order customers in New York, Texas, and Massachusetts.

Salmonella can cause serious and potentially fatal infections in children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. In others, Salmonella infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases could lead to arthritis, endocarditis, or arterial infection.

Customers are urged to immediately dispose of the recalled products and contact American Pecan Co. to receive further instructions at 1-800-364-9053.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm202292.htm

Beef

All beef products sold or transported in the United States must be federally inspected. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ensures that meat products are correctly labeled, packaged, and prepared according to safety guidelines in the Federal Meat Inspection Act. However, instances of beef contamination by bacteria frequently occur when safety guidelines are not followed by meat manufacturers or suppliers.

In the past five years, the FSIS estimates that there have been approximately 61.8 million pounds of beef subject to E. coli-related recalls.

Often government inspection procedures or slaughterhouse inspection procedures are inadequate to identify potential contamination. According to the FSIS, most beef recalls are triggered by reports of consumer illnesses, and not by government or industry testing.

Beef is most often found to be contaminated with E. coli, a common bacteria that is found in the intestines of humans and animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, one dangerous strain called E. coli O157:H7 produces a powerful poison that causes severe sickness. Foods that are contaminated with E. coli cause an estimated 73,000 sicknesses per year and about 60 deaths.

While most healthy adults can recover within a week from E. coli poisoning, young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems can experience severe complications. Approximately 2-7 percent of all E. coli illnesses result in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can lead to organ failure, serious kidney damage, paralysis, blindness, high blood pressure, or even death.

Beef and E. coli Outbreaks

In January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an ongoing investigation into an outbreak of E. coli affecting 21 people from 16 states. The illnesses were reported from October 2009 to December 2009, and there have been nine reported hospitalizations and one case of a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). It is suspected that the outbreak is associated with recall beef from the National Steak and Poultry company.

In October 2009, an outbreak of E. coli was reported in at least 8 states, with 26 people infected with the dangerous E. coli O157:H7 strain. There have been 19 reports of hospitalization, with five cases of a HUS. Two deaths have been reported. It is suspected that the outbreak is associated with ground beef from the Fairbank Farms company.

Recalls

Huntington Meat Packing Recall

In February 2010, Huntington Meat Packing, Inc. expanded its January 2010 recall to include approximately 4.9 million additional pounds of beef and veal products that were produced in unsanitary conditions. The recall affects ground beef patties, beef patties, ground beef, beef burrito filling mix, diced beef, sliced beef, and various veal patties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation to determine if the company knowingly produced meat in unsanitary conditions and continued selling the products for 347 days.

In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Huntington Meat Packing Inc. recalled approximately 864,000 pounds of beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The recall affects ground beef, beef burrito filling mix, beef patties, and other products.

National Steak and Poultry Recall

In December 2009, the FSIS issued a notice of a recall of 248,000 pounds of beef from National Steak and Poultry with a possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Fairbank Farms Recall

In October 2009, the FSIS issued a notice of a recall of approximately 545,699 pounds of ground beef from Fairbank Farms.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2010/index.html
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/foodborneinfections_g.htm#mostcommon
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/stec_gi.html
  5. http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Basics/ucm195786.htm

E. coli

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 73,000 cases of E. coli infections occur each year in the United States. Escherichia coli O157:H7, commonly called E. coli, is a dangerous strain of bacteria that can cause poisoning and severe sickness if ingested.

E. coli can be found in undercooked beef, vegetables, contaminated water, unpasteurized milk, and cattle, and the bacteria is highly contagious. Outbreaks generally involve beef products, but recently prepackaged salad and spinach has been associated with food recalls and E. coli contamination.

E. coli Outbreaks

In January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an ongoing investigation into an outbreak of E. coli affecting 21 people from 16 states. The illnesses were reported from October 2009 to December 2009, and there have been nine reported hospitalizations and one case of a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). It is suspected that the outbreak is associated with recall beef from the National Steak and Poultry company.

In October 2009, an outbreak of E. coli was reported in at least 8 states, with 26 people infected with the dangerous E. coli O157:H7 strain. There have been 19 reports of hospitalization, with five cases of a HUS. Two deaths have been reported. It is suspected that the outbreak is associated with ground beef from the Fairbank Farms company.

Recalls

Huntington Meat Packing Recall

In February 2010, Huntington Meat Packing, Inc. expanded its January 2010 recall to include approximately 4.9 million additional pounds of beef and veal products that were produced in unsanitary conditions. The recall affects ground beef patties, beef patties, ground beef, beef burrito filling mix, diced beef, sliced beef, and various veal patties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation to determine if the company knowingly produced meat in unsanitary conditions and continued selling the products for 347 days.

In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Huntington Meat Packing Inc. recalled approximately 864,000 pounds of beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The recall affects ground beef, beef burrito filling mix, beef patties, and other products.

National Steak and Poultry Recall

In December 2009, the FSIS issued a notice of a recall of 248,000 pounds of beef from National Steak and Poultry with a possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Fairbank Farms Recall

In October 2009, the FSIS issued a notice of a recall of approximately 545,699 pounds of ground beef from Fairbank Farms.

E. coli Poisoning

E. coli, or Escherichia coli,is a common bacteria that is found in the intestines of humans and animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, one dangerous strain called E. coli O157:H7 produces a powerful poison that causes severe sickness. Foods that are contaminated with E. coli cause an estimated 73,000 sicknesses per year and about 60 deaths.

Common foods that can contain E. coli include undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk or juice, raw fruits and vegetables, or contaminated water. The infection can cause severe bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, and usually has no fever.

While most healthy adults can recover within a week from E. coli poisoning, young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems can experience severe complications. Approximately 2-7 percent of all E. coli illnesses result in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can lead to organ failure, serious kidney damage, paralysis, blindness, high blood pressure, or even death.

Sources

  1. http://www.consumerreports.org/health/healthy-living/health-safety/possible-risk-of-e.coli-from-bagged-spinach-9-06/overview/0609_ecoli-in-bagged-spinach.htm
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/stec_gi.html
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/

Fresh & Easy Granola Bar Recall

On February 18, 2010, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc. announced a voluntary recall of all date codes of Fresh & Easy Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. The recalled bars may contain an ingredient that is contaminated with Salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and potentially fatal infections in children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. In others, Salmonella infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases could lead to arthritis, endocarditis, or arterial infection.

The recall affects Fresh & Easy Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars in a 6-count, 7.4 oz. carton, with barcode #5051379001377. The products were sold in Fresh & Easy stores in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Customers are advised to return the unused products to any Fresh & Easy store for a full refund.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm201235.htm

Frontier Meats Beef Recall

On April 22, 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Beltex Corporation, of Fort Worth, Texas is recalling 135,500 pounds of beef trim products, due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. E. coli O157:H7 is a dangerous strain of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, severe sickness, and even death in some populations.

During a routine Food Safety Assessment, the FSIS discovered that the establishment’s methods of analyzing samples for E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in beef products raised concerns about the safety of the products. Though there have been no reports of illness so far in connection to the beef products, the USDA is issuing a recall to prevent serious illness from spreading.

The following Beltex beef products, sold in boxes, are being recalled:

  • Frontier Meats Beef Boneless Navel
  • Frontier Meats Beef Trimming 50/50
  • Frontier Meats Beef Trace Trim
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Bnls.
  • Frontier Meats Beef Kidney Fat
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Trim 75/25
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Trim 85/15
  • Frontier Meats Beef 115A Bnls. Chuck 2Pcs
  • Frontier Meats Beef Trimming 85/15 Vac Pack
  • Frontier Meats Beef B-90 Trimmings 91-Ctrn.
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Bnls. Navel Soaked and Salted
  • Frontier Meats Beef Trim XF Soaked and Salted
  • Frontier Meats Beef Trim Regular Soaked and Salted
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Trim 85/15
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Bnls. 80/20
  • Frontier Meats Beef Combo Boneless Navel

The recalled boxes have “EST. 07041B” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection on product labeling. The meats were produced on October 28, 2009, November 20, 2009, February 19, 2010, and April 2, 2010 and were distributed to wholesalers and federal establishments in Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Health Valley Granola Bar Recall

On February 19, 2010, Lovin Oven, LLC of Irwindale, CA announced a voluntary recall of certain Health Valley Organic Peanut Crunch, Dutch Apple, and Wildberry Chewy Granola Bars due to a potential for the products to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The recalled granola bars were sold nationwide, with the following lots affected:

  • Organic Peanut Crunch (6.1 oz.): 07DEC09H2; 15JAN10H2; 23FEB10H2; 28FEB10H2; 28MAR10H2; 29MAR10H;1  13APR10H1; 06SEP10H2; 06NOV10H2; 09FEB10H2
  • Organic Dutch Apple (6.1 oz.): 03JAN10H1; 05FEB10H2; 05FEB10H2; 28MAR10H2; 17AUG10H1
  • Organic Wildberry (6.1 oz.): 05JAN10H2; 15JAN10H1; 12APR10H1; 06JUL10H1; 08MAR10H1

Salmonella can cause serious and potentially fatal infections in children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. In others, Salmonella infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases could lead to arthritis, endocarditis, or arterial infection.

Customers are urged to return recalled products to the store where they were purchased for a full refund, and any questions can be directed to the hotline at 1-800-423-4846.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm201351.htm

Peanut Butter

The peanut-roasting process, if done correctly, usually kills any bacteria that may be present, including the common salmonella bacteria that is found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. However, if the product is not very moist, such as the case with some peanut butters and peanut paste, salmonella can survive heating, leading to product contamination.

Salmonella Outbreak

In February 2007, the first outbreak of salmonella contamination in peanut butter was reported in ConAgra brand’s Peter Pan peanut butter and Wal-Mart’s Great Value peanut butter in the United States. The 2007 salmonella outbreak caused an estimated 425 cases of salmonellosis, the infection associated with the salmonella bacteria.

A salmonella outbreak in January 2009 involved the Typhimurium strain of salmonella. The outbreak spurred a recall of thousands of products containing contaminated peanut paste or peanut butter made by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), based out of Blakely, Georgia. An estimated 3,918 peanut-containing products manufactured by more than 200 companies may have contained the bacteria, including King Nut peanut butter and Parnell’s Pride peanut butter. The 2009 outbreak led to almost 500 cases of sickness in 46 U.S. states and one Canadian province, with 107 hospitalizations and nine deaths reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Peanut Butter Recalls

King Nut Peanut Butter Recall

In January 2009, the Ohio-based King Nut Companies issued a total recall of its peanut butter products, including the King Nut and Parnell’s Pride brands, citing the products as the likely source of the 2009 salmonella outbreak. King Nut products were sold in institutions only, such as hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, and cafeterias. The products contained peanuts contaminated by salmonella from the Peanut Corp. of America processing plant.

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Recall

The Peanut Corp. of America issued a warning in 2009 that salmonella contamination may have affected more than 3,918 products that contained peanut butter or peanut paste manufactured at the Blakely, Georgia processing plant. More than 200 companies had used PCA peanut material in their products.

Kellogg Austin and Keebler Peanut Butter Cracker Recall

In January 2009, Kellogg Co. recalled Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers as a precautionary measure, after PCA, its peanut paste supplier, reported salmonella contamination. The recalled products include Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.

Salmonella Poisoning

A type of bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals, salmonella exists in the U.S. in more than 2,500 forms. Each year, an estimated 40,000 cases of salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, are reported from contaminated foods, but many cases go unreported or undiagnosed. Symptoms of salmonellosis are usually apparent within 12 to 72 hours of ingestions, and signs of the illness include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Symptoms can last up to seven days. Salmonella contamination is often found in eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, and raw fruits and vegetables.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/update.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/salmonellosis_gi.html
  3. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm103263.htm
  4. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/10/salmonella.outbreak.cdc/index.html

Pierino Jumbo Shells Recall

On February 3, 2010, Pierino Frozen Foods Inc. announced a recall of all 24 oz. packages of Pierino Frozen Foods’ “Jumbo Shells with Cheese,” citing an allergy alert. The products contain undeclared eggs, which could pose a danger to consumers with an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs.

The recall affects all Jumbo Shells with Cheese products sold in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The recalled packages are marked with UPC #039106333347 with expiration dates up to 01/2011.

The company has received one report from a consumer regarding a mild reaction to the product.

Customers who have purchased the Jumbo Shells with Cheese and are allergic to eggs are asked to return them for a full refund. Questions can be directed to 1-866-Go-Pasta.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm199796.htm

Stop & Shop Cookie Recall

On February 10, 2010, Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. announced a voluntary recall of all 24 oz. Party Platter Cookies, citing an allergy alert. The cookies contain almonds and almond paste, which may pose a serious health risk to consumers with almond allergies.

Stop & Shop has currently removed all Party Platter Cookies (UPC #200055639) from store shelves. The product is sold through the Stop & Shop In-Store Bakery and is packaged on a platter in a box.

Customers who have purchased the cookies are advised to discard the product and bring their receipt to any Stop & Shop location for a full refund.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm200210.htm

Trader Joe’s Recalls Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars

On February 19, 2010, Trader Joe’s Co. of Monrovia, California, announced a voluntary recall expansion of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars to include all code dates due to a potential of Salmonella contamination.

The contaminated granola bars were sold at Trader Joe’s stores nationwide and are supplied in a 7.4-oz. box (SKU 82818).

Salmonella can cause serious and potentially fatal infections in children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. In others, Salmonella infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases could lead to arthritis, endocarditis, or arterial infection.

Customers are urged to return the recalled product to any Trader Joe’s store for a full refund. The company can be contacted at 626-599-3817.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm202071.htm

Whole Foods Frozen Tuna Recall

On April 4, 2010, Whole Foods Market announced a recall of Whole Catch Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks, due to potentially elevated levels of histamine discovered in the frozen food.

Elevated histamine can lead to an allergic reaction known as scombroid poisoning within minutes of eating the affected fish, with symptoms such as facial swelling, rash, hives, itchy skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a tingling or burning sensation in the mouth.

The recall affects all 12-ounce bags of Whole Catch Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks (Frozen) with the following codes:

  • Best By Date: 05 DEC 2010
  • Lot Code: 4853309157A
  • UPC Code: 0-99482-42078-9

Whole Foods has received two reports of allergic reactions to the tuna, which was distributed to 28 states and the District of Columbia. Whole Foods has already removed the affect lot code from store shelves, and consumers are urged to return the recalled products to the store for a full refund. Whole Foods can be contacted at 512-542-0656.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm207477.htm?s_cid=w_c_sms_cont_001

Wholesome Spice Recalls Crushed Red Pepper

On February 25, 2010, Wholesome Spice of Brooklyn, NY, announced a recall of all lots of 25-pound boxes of Crushed Red Pepper sold between April 6, 2009 and January 20, 2010, due to a potential for the products to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The contaminated Crushed Red Pepper product is packaged in a clear plastic bag inside of a cardboard box with a white label, blue border, and blue and black lettering (“Wholesome Spices- Crushed Red Pepper”).

Salmonella can cause serious and potentially fatal infections in children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. In others, Salmonella infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases could lead to arthritis, endocarditis, or arterial infection.

Manufacturers are urged to dispose of the recalled products and cease distribution. The company can be reached at 718-388-1549.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm202113.htm