By: James Peacock

Every week we take a look at a selection of recalls that have affected food items. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) handle food recalls in the United States, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) handles Canadian recalls. Reasons for food recalls can range from allergen contamination to pathogen contamination. It is important for consumers to keep track of food recalls in order to prevent infections. This week’s recalls include butter, protein bars, and naan bread for undeclared allergens or Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Allergens

On July 5, 2017, the Emeryville, California-based Clif Bar & Company issued a recall for several different varieties of protein bar products. These products were recalled because they may have a variety of nuts, including peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, and coconuts.  None of these potential allergens are properly declared on the product labels. Any of these nuts can cause an allergic reaction in certain individuals, making them potentially dangerous. The recall was issued after Clif Bar & Company received multiple comments from consumers talking about potential allergic reactions. There have not, however, been any confirmed reports of adverse reactions. The protein bar products were sold online and in retail stores across the United States. The recalled products can be identified by information included in the table below. No other Clif Bar products are included in the recall. Consumers with recalled products are encouraged to return the products to the store they were purchased from for an exchange or a refund.

Product Name Lot Code From Lot Code To
Clif Builder’s 18-count Variety Pack Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mint 24MAR16M 09FEB18M
Clif Kid ZBar Protein 30-count Variety Pack 31MAY 16M 15OCT17M
Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint 12-count 05APR16M3 23APR18M3
Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint 6-pack
Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint 7-pack
Clif Builder’s Snack Size Chocolate Mint 200-count
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Chip 10-pack
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Chip 150-count
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Chip 5-pack
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Mint 10-pack
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Mint 150-count
Clif Kid ZBar Protein Chocolate Mint 5-pack

Also on July 5, Anarkali Peshawari Naan was recalled by Raja Foods on account of a potential milk contamination. The Skokie, Illinois-based company issued the recall after a confirmed adverse reaction was reported in New Jersey. The naan bread was distributed nationwide to retail stores. The recalled products are packaged in 15-ounce plastic bags and are marked with the manufacturing and expiration dates on the back. Raja Foods is currently working with their supplier in an effort to change the labeling to reflect the potential presence of milk going forward.

Allergen contamination is slightly different from foodborne illness pathogens but is no less dangerous. Rather than causing illness, exposure to allergens will trigger an allergic reaction. Allergies can be caused by a very wide variety of things including animals, dust, food, and medicines. While nearly anything can potentially cause a food allergy, health officials often classify eggs, fish, milk, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat as the “Big 8” allergens. The effects of an allergic reaction can range from just a rash to full-blown, and potentially deadly, pulmonary issues. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, itchiness, and cramps. More severe allergic reactions will sometimes develop into Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening complication. Different people will often have different allergies, and the severity of the reaction will depend on the person. Many people with severe allergies will carry an Epi-pen with them. An Epi-pen is a concentrated shot of epinephrine will help counteract some of the symptoms of Anaphylaxis. Its effectiveness is only temporary, so it is important to use an Epi-pen as quickly as possible after an anaphylactic allergic reaction takes place. If an Epi-pen is needed, the next action is to get the affected person to a hospital immediately. Instructions for how to use an Epi-pen can be found here.

Listeria monocytogenes in Canada

 

 

Also on July 5, the Canadian company Maurice St-Laurent Limitée issued a recall for St. Laurent brand butter. The recall was issued after the CFIA ran tests on samples taken from recalled butter, and found Listeria in the products. The recalled butter was distributed to the Canadian province of Quebec. The products were sold in 454-gram packages. They can be identified by the product code 156 074 and the UPC code 0 62260 00454 9. Pictures of the product have been included to help identify recalled butter. Consumers should dispose of the contaminated products in order to prevent infection. There have not been any illnesses connected to the recall. Because of the Listeria contamination, the CFIA launched an investigation. In the July 5 announcement of the recalled butter, they stated that was possible that other products may be recalled in relation to the St Laurent recall.

As it turns out there would, in fact, be another recall linked to the original Listeria contamination. On July 8, the CFIA announced that two other brands of butter—Peron and Beurre du Lac—were being recalled. The company who produced the butter, Industry, issued the recall just three days after the original contamination discovery. These products were also distributed to the province of Quebec. The Perron brand products were sold in 454-gram packages, and are labeled with the product code 143 069 and the UPC code 7 72622 72454 0. The other brand affected, Beurre du Lac, also sold butter in 454-gram packages, and had the product code 143 032 and UPC code 0 62260 00455 6 printed on the butter. There have not been any illnesses connected with this recall.

What is Listeria?

Listeria is one of the less common forms of food poisoning but nonetheless is still a very dangerous pathogen. The CDC estimates that the pathogen causes about 1600 cases of illness per year. Listeria poisoning can manifest itself in one of two forms. In those with relatively healthy immune systems, Listeria presents itself as a gastrointestinal illness, causing symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases though, and especially in the elderly and immunocompromised, Listeria can become invasive, causing headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Invasive Listeria is potentially fatal, as it can enter the nervous system and cause meningitis. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk of developing a serious case of Listeria poisoning. Listeria monocytogenes may cause a flu-like infection in pregnant women but can lead to miscarriages and stillbirths. The CDC also warns that pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get a Listeria infection, putting them at a greater risk.  The symptoms of a Listeria infection can appear anywhere between 3 and 70 days after the Listeria bacteria are ingested. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of Listeria poisoning, contact a medical professional.

 

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm565833.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm565763.htm

http://inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2017-07-08/eng/1499556859297/1499556861220

http://inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2017-07-05/eng/1499269647968/1499269651002

https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/home/ovc-20307210