By: James Peacock

Every week, voluntary recalls are issued by companies because of many different reasons. Announced with the help of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), these recalls represent the first line of defense in the prevention of foodborne illness outbreaks. Recalls can be triggered by anything ranging from pathogen contamination to allergen contamination. As a consumer, keeping track of the various recalls as they occur is the best way to prevent illness in your own homes. This week’s recalls were caused by allergens, extraneous materials, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes

Health officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have been investigating reports of Listeria contamination in butter products. There have been a series of recalls in relation to this investigation, beginning on July 5. There was an update to the recall issued just a few days later, on July 8. Another three days after that, yet another update was published. On July 11, the recall issued on July 8 was expanded to include products from brand names including Perron and Nutrinor. There have not been any cases of illness connected to this recall. Consumers are asked to dispose of the recalled butter or return it to the store it was purchased from. Products included in the recall and their identifying information can be found in the table below.

Product Name Size Product Code UPC Code
St. Laurent Butter 454 grams 110 050 0 62260 00454 9
122 058
122 059
125 061
125 062
128 064
Beurre du Lac Butter 454 grams 102 024 0 62260 00455 6
107 025
122 029
128 030
135 031
149 033
Perron Butter 454 grams 135 067 7 72622 72454 0
Nutrinor Butter 454 grams 122 057 0 65244 45827 7
122 058
125 060
125 061

 

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. Even still, nearly everyone who is sickened by Listeria bacteria is hospitalized. Listeria poisoning can manifest itself in one of two forms. In those with 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.

Extraneous Material

On July 15, a recall of beef and pork hot dog and sausage items was issued by Marathon Enterprises Inc. The Bronx, New York-based company issued the recall on account of there being extraneous material found in their products, specifically bone fragments. There has been one report of injury caused by bone fragments. There are approximately 7.2 million pounds of hot dog products being recalled. The hot dogs and sausage were produced between March 17 and July 4, 2017. Recalled products are marked with the establishment number “EST. 8854”, which can be found in the USDA mark of inspection. There were several different brand names affected by the recall, including Sabrett, 1906, Windmill, Papaya King, Stew Leonard’s, and Western Beef. A full list of labels for affected products can be found here.

Allergens

On July 10, Coborn’s, Inc. issued a recall for Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Bars which were mistakenly labeled as Gluten Free Fudge Brownies. The labels for Gluten Free Fudge Brownies do not declare milk as a potential allergen, which is an ingredient in the Chocolate Chip Bars. Those with a milk allergy can have a serious reaction to the products. Recalled products were sold between July 4 and July 6, 2017, in Coborn’s and Cash Wise stores across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Recalled chocolate chip bars were also sent to Marketplace Foods stores in Wisconsin. All recalled products list an expiration date of July 10. The UPC code attached to recalled products is 7-33147-20522-8. The labeling issue was discovered on July 6, and the issue has since been corrected. No adverse reactions have been reported.

Sunneen Health Foods voluntarily recalled Whole Foods Market PB&J parfaits on July 12. The products were mislabeled prior to being offered for sale. The parfaits were sold in five different Whole Foods stores in New York and New Jersey. Soy and tree nuts are ingredients in the recalled products but are not properly declared on the label. The parfaits were sold in 8-ounce containers. The labels will have a UPC code of 636910500448 and a “Best-by” date before 7/13/2017 listed on them. A full list of stores that sold the recalled products can be found here. No allergic reactions have been reported in relation to this recall.

The last recall of this week’s roundup was issued by Texas Legend Foods. The Austin, Texas-based company recalled its Silver Star Chipotle Queso Dip after concerns arose that there were several different allergens found in the product. Cheese, milk, and eggs are all ingredients in the product, but none are declared on the label. The dip was packaged in 16-ounce jars. Several lot numbers are under recall, including 060AFV7A, 072AFV7A, 072AFV7B, 090AFV7A, and 111AFV7A. The lot number can be found stamped on the top of the jar. The UPC code assigned to the chipotle dip is 819993005394. The recalled products were distributed to retail locations nationwide. No adverse reactions to recalled chipotle dip have been reported.

Allergen contamination is slightly different from foodborne illness pathogens but is by no means less dangerous. Rather than causing illness, exposure to allergens will trigger an allergic reaction. Allergies can be caused by basically anything, but common sources for allergies include 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 various allergies, and the severity of the reaction will not be standard from person to person. Many people with severe allergies will carry an Epi-pen with them, which 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.

Sources:

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2017/recall-082-2017-release

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm567152.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm566610.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm566340.htm

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2017-07-11/eng/1499823191065/1499823194474

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

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