Possible contamination of organic spinach triggered many product recalls this spring.
A variety of foods were recalled this year because testing showed that listeria could be present, even though no illnesses had been linked to these products at the time they were recalled—nor has the CDC reported anyone being sickened by them to date. They include: Greystone Foods’ Today Harvest Field Peas with Snaps, Silver Queen Corn, and Broccoli Florets; Goodseed and Henry’s Farm branded sprouts; Hyvee Pasta salad; Jamba At-Home Smoothie Kits; Jeni’s Splendid frozen desserts; Rising Moon Organics Frozen Ravioli; Sabra Classic Hummus; Subway and Sun Rich packaged apple slices.
Listeria contamination of a food used as an ingredient in other products can trigger multiple recalls. In March of this year, Coastal Green Vegetable Co.—a California supplier of organic spinach—announced a recall due to possible listeria contamination. A cascade of related recalls of frozen organic spinach quickly followed: Cadia Organic Cut Spinach, Wild Harvest Organic Cut Leaf Spinach and house brands sold by Meijer, and Wegmans. There also were recalls of other frozen products, such as La Terra Fina Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip & Spread, and a variety of frozen meals from Amy’s Kitchen, including Amy’s Vegetable Lasagna and Amy’s Spinach Pizza. The companies said they had been informed by their organic spinach suppliers that they had received the potentially contaminated product, though they did not name the supplier. No illnesses were reported to date in relation to any of these recalls.
Ice cream has been the cause of listeria outbreaks.
When companies recall listeria-contaminated foods, what do they do to make sure future products are safe?
Identifying the source of the bacteria and eliminating it is essential and can require steps ranging from setting up new sanitizing systems in production facilities to establishing new listeria testing requirements.
For example, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream announced in late December 2014 that it was recalling all of its products produced during that year because they had been linked to two cases of listerosis. The company then shut down its plant for a month to fully sanitize it. It also implemented new safety programs that required bacterial testing results from all of its suppliers, as well as third-party testing of its production facility and of all batches of ice cream prior to shipping, which was able to resume in late January.
When Blue Bell recalled all of its ice cream products in late April, it also halted production at its four plants to carry out an intensive cleaning program, which included major repairs and sanitizing equipment. But in a May 15 press release announcing layoffs at the company, Blue Bell said that the process of cleaning and improving its plants will take longer than anticipated. It also said it had no timeline for when it would begin producing ice cream again, and that when production does resume, it will be limited and phased in over time.
How can I make sure the food I eat is safe? – 12.05.15