By: James Peacock

During the past week, there have been several different recalls for food products. There are many different potential causes for food recalls, and this week recalls were caused by Listeria monocytogenes, foreign objects, allergens, and Salmonella. As a consumer, it is very important to keep an eye on recalls as they occur, because recalls are one of the best ways to prevent the occurrence of a foodborne illness outbreak.

Listeria monocytogenes

On May 15, 2017, Global Garlic Inc., a Miami, Florida based company, issued a recall for more than 200 units of fresh whole milk cheese, labeled as  De Mi Pais brand Queso Fresco. There is a potential for the product to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The cheese in question was distributed to retail stores in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Miami, Florida, and Fairdale, Kentucky. The products subject to the recall were packaged in 16 ounce plastic bags. Recalled Queso Fresco is labeled with the expiration date of September 19, 2017. There have not been any illnesses connected with this recall at this point.

A Listeria infection is a potentially serious form of foodborne illness. The CDC estimates that there are around 1600 cases of Listeria monocytogenes poisoning each year in the United States. Listeriosis, the infection caused by Listeria bacteria, will produce symptoms between 3 and 70 days after infection. When the infection becomes apparent, symptoms including muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and stiff neck. Those with certain risk factors, including the elderly, children, and those with suppressed immune systems may be at an increased risk of developing a serious Listeria infection. Women who are pregnant are also at an increased risk, as Listeria can cause complications with the pregnancy. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of a Listeria infection, contact a medical professional.

Salmonella

L.A. Lucky Import & Export Inc., on May 23, 2017, announced a voluntary recall for L.A. Lucky Brand Basil Seeds. The 2.1 ounce packages of seeds are being recalled because they are likely to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. L.A. Lucky has stopped distributing the items for the moment, but recalled products were distributed to retail locations nationwide prior to the recall. Recalled products were distributed between October 1, 2015 and May 15, 2017. The clear, plastic packaging is marked with the UPC codes of 820678201697. The contamination, which had been revealed by routine testing done by the company, has yet to cause any cases of illness.

Salmonella bacteria is one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal illness in America. The CDC estimates that Salmonella causes about 1.2 million cases of illness per year. A case of Salmonella poisoning usually produces symptoms between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning typically include vomiting, abdominal cramping, fever, and nausea. Generally, an infection will go away on its own within a week, although Salmonella infections may worsen. Those with certain risk factors, including children, the elderly, and those with suppressed immune systems may be at an increased risk of developing a serious case of Salmonella poisoning. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning, contact a medical professional.

Foreign Object Contamination

In one of the largest recalls of the last week, more than 200,000 pounds of hot dog products are being recalled by John Morrell and Co. because they may be contaminated with a variety of of foreign materials, most specifically metal. The issue became known after the company, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, received 3 separate complaints of metal objects being found in the beef frank packages. The recalled products were produced on January 26, 2017. There are 2 varieties of hot dogs subject to the recall, including 14 ounce packages of Nathan’s Skinless 8 Beef Franks with a Use By date of August 19, 2017, and 16 ounce packages of Curtis Beef Master Beef Franks with a Use By date of June 15, 2017. All products are marked with the establishment number EST. 296. While these items were shipped to retail locations nationwide, no adverse reactions of injuries have been reported.

Undeclared Allergens

Nuts

On May 12, 2017, the Arabella Station location of Whole Foods Market issued a recall for packaged oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. This Whole Foods store, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans, has issued the recall voluntarily because the products may be contaminated with walnuts, a known allergen. Those who have a sensitivity to tree nuts may experience an allergic reaction after coming into contact with these products. All affected products have been removed from the shelves, but they still may be in the homes of consumers. The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were sold in packs of 18, and are labeled with a UPC code beginning with 247191 and a Best By date of May 19, 2017. No other stores are affected by the recall, and only one allergic reaction has been reported at this time.

Eggs

In another allergen-related recall, Italian Gluten Free Food Cl has issued an allergy alert for their product, Chef Luca’s Lasagna Al Forno – Baked Cheese Lasagna. The 15 ounce packages of cheese lasagna may contain egg, a known allergen and something which companies are required to declare on the label. The alert, issued on May 15, 2017, occurred because the egg in the lasagna was undeclared. The products, which were packaged in a black and goldish colored cardboard box, are marked with a variety of lot numbers and expiration dates, including:

 

Lot Number Expiration Date
0387 02/07/2018
0527 02/21/2018
0547 02/23/2018
1147 04/24/2018

The products were distributed to states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington DC. Within these states and Washington DC, the products were sent to KeHe Distributors, River Valley Foods, Wegmans, HEB stores, and Uncle Giuseppe’s retail stores. There has been one report of Anaphylaxis, which was treated and the individual was released.

Allergens are different than most causes of foodborne issues in that while exposure to bacteria or a virus may lead to the development of illness, exposure to allergens triggers an allergic reaction. These reactions can come in the form of itchiness, cramps, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing. In rare cases, an allergic reaction can cause a side effect called anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. Pretty much everything could be a potential allergen, but there are some items that more commonly cause issues, such as wheat, gluten, eggs, milk, pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and sesame. Because allergies to those allergens are common, the FDA requires all items containing them to be marked as such. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of an allergic reaction, contact a medical professional. If a person appears to be suffering from anaphylaxis, you may need to use an Epi-pen to calm their symptoms before help arrives.

 

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm559225.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm560225.htm

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2017/recall-052-2017-release

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm558380.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm558593.htm