Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. of Tracy, CA, is recalling the products listed below because they may include celery which could potentially contain E. coli O157:H7.
The products listed below are being recalled out of an abundance of caution due to a Celery and Onion Diced Blend testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken by the Montana Department of Health. The Celery and Onion Diced Blend tested by the state of Montana was used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad that has been linked to a multi-state E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak.
Consumers may call 209-830-3141 for any further information Monday to Friday, exclusive of holidays, between the hours of 8am-5pm (PST). Consumers with concerns about an illness from consumption of any of the recalled products should contact a health care provider.
A retailer or food service operator is only as good as the ingredients they use. Even with the best internal food safety programs, a good food safety culture includes supplier standards and verifications. Audits and inspections are never enough.
According to the Associated Press, Costco believes that contamination of their rotisserie chicken salad is linked to produce.
Costco officials say testing has pointed toward a vegetable mix from a California food wholesaler as the source of E. coli in the company’s chicken salad that has been linked to an outbreak that has sickened 19 people in seven states.
Craig Wilson, Costco vice president of food safety and quality assurance, said Wednesday he was told by the Food and Drug Administration that the strain of E. coli seems to be connected to an onion and celery mix.
Wilson says the company uses one supplier for those vegetables in the chicken salad sold in all its U.S. stores.
He says one additional test is needed to confirm that the vegetables carried the same E. coli strain connected with the outbreak.
Wilson identified the supplier as Taylor Farms in Salinas, California.
As of November 23, 2015, 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from 7 states.
The majority of illnesses have been reported from states in the western United States.
5 ill people have been hospitalized, and 2 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.
14 (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started.
The ongoing investigation has not identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to illness.
On November 20, 2015, Costco reported to public health officials that the company had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the U.S. and stopped further production of the product until further notice.
Consumers who purchased rotisserie chicken salad from any Costco store in the United States on or before November 20, 2015, should not eat it and should throw it away.
Even if some of the rotisserie chicken salad has been eaten and no one has gotten sick, throw the rest of the product away.
This product has a typical shelf life of 3 days and is labeled “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” with item number 37719 on the label.
“Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” from Costco has been connected with at least one case of E. coli O157:H7 in Washington. Consumers who purchased this product – item number 37719 – from any Washington Costco location should discard it.
The Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other western states, are investigating E. coli illnesses from chicken salad purchased from various Costco stores in late October. Washington has confirmed one case of E. coli O157:H7 from King County, who became ill in late October. This confirmed case was not hospitalized.
“We take E. coli very seriously in Washington,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist, “and we are working with CDC and state partners to determine the source.”
Others states with confirmed E. coli cased linked to Costco chicken salad include Colorado (4), Montana (NA), and Utah (NA). In addition to CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working with Costco to determine the source of the contamination.
The following product has been sold from Costco located in Ancaster, Ontario between October 26 and November 3, 2015.
Code(s) on Product
Quinoa Salad (Item/Art. 0273943)
Packaged on: 15/OC/26 to 15/NO/03, inclusive
0 00002 73943 4
What you should do
Check to see if you have recalled product in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to a Costco warehouse.
This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.
The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.
There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.
No word on whether this is related to the 500 or so people sickened by Cyclospora that was thought to be Mexican cilantro, no word on how many are sick, no word on where the snap peas originated, but Canadians are busy with an election.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says that Costco Wholesale Canada Inc. is voluntarily recalling Alpine Fresh brand Snap Peas from the marketplace due to possible Cyclospora contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.
The product has been sold from Costco locations across Ontario.
This recall was triggered by findings by CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.
The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.
There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.
Thanks for that info. And now this. (Chapman may have something to say about the cameras).
During my brief time at IEH Laboratories (short for Institute for Environmental Health, it wasn’t a good fit for me), Mansour Samadpour asked me what the biggest food safety issue was, as we strolled through an antique shop.
Ferrières provides extensive documentation of the rules, regulations and penalties that emerged in the Mediterranean between the 12th and 16th centuries.
But rules are only as good as the enforcement that backs them up.
And increasingly, that falls to the private sector (as it should; they make the profits).
Craig Wilson, Costco’s vice president for quality assurance and food safety, told the N.Y. Times he uses government guidelines “as a minimum standard, and I always try to go above and beyond that.”
According to the Times article, Samadpour makes his way through the supermarket like a detective working a crime scene, slow, watchful, up one aisle and down the next. A clerk mistakenly assumes that he needs help, but Mr. Samadpour brushes him off. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
He buys organic raspberries that might test positive for pesticides and a fillet of wild-caught fish that might be neither wild nor the species listed on the label. He buys beef and pork ground fresh at the market. He is disappointed that there is no caviar, which might turn out to be something cheaper than sturgeon roe. That’s an easy case to crack.
On this visit, he is shopping for goods he can test at his labs to demonstrate to a reporter that what you see on market shelves may not be what you get.
While he’s out of the office, he receives a call and dispatches a team on a more pressing expedition: They need to buy various products that contain cumin, because a client just found possible evidence of peanuts, a powerful allergen, in a cumin-based spice mix. The client wants a definitive answer before someone gets sick.
Suppliers, manufacturers and markets depend on Mr. Samadpour’s network of labs to test food for inadvertent contamination and deliberate fraud, or to verify if a product is organic or free of genetically modified organisms. Consumers, the last link in the chain, bet their very health on responsible practices along the way.
Mr. Samadpour, who opened IEH’s first lab in 2001 with six employees, now employs over 1,500 people at 116 labs in the United States and Europe. He refers to his company, one of the largest of its kind in the country, as “a privately financed public health organization.”
“Ten years ago, it would have taken millions of dollars to sequence a genome,” Mr. Samadpour says. “Now it takes $100. We do thousands a year.”
Business is booming — partly because IEH clients consider testing to be a gatekeeper defense in a multitiered food economy without borders. “We’re a lot more concerned about imports,” Mr. Samadpour says, because of “lack of accountability, lack of infrastructure, lack of a culture of food safety.”
While the lab focuses primarily on safety issues like the cumin-and-peanut inquiry, there are enough fraud calls to support specialties among the lab technicians, like Kirthi Kutumbaka, referred to by his colleagues as “the emperor of fish” for his work on a seafood identification project. Once a fish is filleted, genetic testing is the only way to confirm its identity, making it a popular category for fraud.
IEH’s clients are primarily vendors who supply retailers and manufacturers, and they generally prefer to remain anonymous for fear of indicating to consumers that they have a specific worry about safety.
Costco is one of the retailers that use IEH’s services, and the company doesn’t mind talking about it.
“We have to inspect what we expect,” says Wilson, meaning that products have to live up to their labels, particularly items in Costco’s own Kirkland Signature line.
Costco has a smaller margin of error than most food retailers; the company stocks only about 3,500 so-called S.K.U.s, or stock keeping units, while most retailers offer as many as 150,000. A single misstep is a far greater percentage of the whole. That’s why, in addition to retaining IEH, it operates its own 20-person testing lab.
“We’re not typical,” Mr. Wilson says. “We have one ketchup, one mayonnaise, one can of olives, Kirkland Signature olive oils and a couple of others.” Since 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture has required the testing of beef used for ground beef, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in cases of E. coli traced to beef consumption. Costco, which processes 600,000 to 700,000 pounds of ground beef daily, does extensive micro-sampling of the meat at its California facility, Mr. Wilson says.
The company expects its suppliers to absorb testing costs and gets no resistance, given the size of the resulting orders. Costco sells 157,000 rotisserie chickens a day. As Mr. Wilson put it: “If vendors get a bill for a couple hundred bucks on a $1 million order, who cares? They don’t.”
The sheer volume also enables Costco to demand action when there is a problem. After a 2006 outbreak of E. coli tied to Earthbound Farm’s ready-to-eat bagged spinach, in which three people died and more than 200 became ill, Mr. Wilson, one of Earthbound’s customers, instituted what he calls a “bag and hold” program for all of Costco’s fresh greens suppliers. He required the suppliers to test their produce and not ship it until they had the results of the tests.
Earthbound responded to the outbreak with a “multihurdle program that places as many barriers to food-borne illness as we can,” says Gary Thomas, the company’s senior vice president for integrated supply chain. Earthbound now conducts 200,000 tests annually on its ready-to-eat greens.
Not everyone was as quick to embrace change; some growers were concerned about losing shelf life while they waited for results. Mr. Wilson was unmoved by that argument. “If you can test and verify microbial safety, what do I care if I lose shelf life?” he says.
About five years ago, Mr. Wilson decided it was time to send an employee to Tuscany to collect leaves from Tuscan olive trees. Costco now has an index of DNA information on “all the cultivars of Tuscan olive oil, about 16 different ones,” he says. “When they harvest and press, we do our DNA testing.”
Mr. Samadpour says that in multi-ingredient products, the source of trickery is usually hidden further down the food chain than the name on the package. “It’s not the top people who get involved in economic adulteration,” he says. “It’s someone lower down who sees a way to save a penny here or there. Maybe it’s 2 or 3 cents, but if you sell a million units, that’s $20,000 to $30,000.”
David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at the 111-year-old United Fresh Produce Association, echoes the position of the Food and Drug Administration: Testing is not a sufficient answer for his members, who include anyone engaged in the fresh produce industry, “from guys who come up with seeds to growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, restaurants and grocery stores, everyone from beginning to end,” from small organic farms to Monsanto.
Their common ground, he says, is a commitment to food safety — but members disagree on how to achieve it, including Mr. Gombas and Mr. Samadpour, who are both microbiologists. “Microbiological testing provides a false sense of security,” Mr. Gombas says. “They can find one dead salmonella cell on a watermelon, but what does that tell you about the rest of the watermelon in the field? Nothing.”
Testing has its place, he says, but as backup for “good practices and environmental monitoring,” which includes things as diverse as employee hygiene and site visits. “I’m a fan of testing,” he says, “if something funny’s going on.” Otherwise, he has taken on the role of contrarian. “People think testing means something. When I say it doesn’t, they smile, nod and keep testing.”
Mr. Samadpour says sampling “can reduce the risk tremendously but can never 100 percent eliminate it,” but he will take a tremendous reduction over a food crisis any day. The government’s “indirect” stance, which mandates safety but does not require testing, allows companies to interpret safe practices on “a spectrum,” he says, “from bare minimum to sophisticated programs,” and he worries about safety at the low end of that range.
He says consumer vigilance is the best defense against the selling of groceries under bare minimum standards.
That’s all nice, but consumers have heard this before, only to be eventually disappointed. Over time, or bad economics, or both, someone will cut corners. The best producers should be marketing the authenticity of their products and make the testing to validate those claims available for public review.
Market food safety and authenticity at retail. The technology is apparently there.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the retail giant is not reliably following food safety controls on a consistent basis.
The agency says Costco is in violation of federal fish inspection regulations and the suspension on imports went into effect on Feb. 26.
It says there is no product recall associated with the licence suspension.
The company’s website indicates it operates 89 warehouse store locations across Canada.
“The CFIA has determined that adequate controls for food safety are not being reliably implemented by the company on a consistent basis, which is in violation of the Fish Inspection Regulations,” the agency says on its website.
The CFIA says Costco can’t import fish products into Canada until it takes corrective action and the agency is satisfied that the chain can effectively manage food safety risks.
Suspension will affect ‘limited number’ of canned tuna products: Costco
Costco Canada said the import licence was used to import a limited number of loads of canned tuna products.
The company said the suspension does not affect any other fish sold in Costco Canada warehouses.
For those waiting for government, a labeling rule which would require packages to provide cooking instructions for the mechanically tenderized meat, had to be finalized by Dec. 31 in order for it to take effect before 2018 under separate requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Philip Brasher writes in Agri-Pulse that FSIS first proposed the labeling for mechanically tenderized meat in June 2013 out of concern that consumers aren’t cooking the meat properly to eliminate pathogens. The meat is tenderized with knives and needles that can drive bacteria inside the product.
However, the meat industry strongly opposes the labeling requirement and USDA officials did not send the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review until Nov. 21. The regulation remains pending at OMB. Under FSIS labeling regulations, the labeling rule could have taken effect as soon as 2016 only if it had been cleared by OMB and approved by USDA by Dec. 31.
The meat industry has argued that the meat doesn’t pose a significant risk and that the special cooking instructions aren’t warranted. In comments filed with FSIS in October 2013, the American Meat Institute said that antimicrobial measures instituted by processors assure that the meat is safe.
The Costco label says the meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Corbo said the final FSIS rule is likely to offer consumers an option to the 160-degree minimum: Cook the meat to 145 degrees and let it stand for least three minutes. The meat will continue to cook internally for the three minutes even though it is no longer on the heat source.
While it might make data conspiracy folks antsy Costco continues to put purchase tracking to good use (sorta, as this Listeria/stone fruit situation may not be that much of a public health risk). According to bustle.com Costco has been directly calling members who purchased recalled Wawona Packing Co. fruit based on a real-time database of purchases.
Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance and food safety at Costco, told HuffPo that the company keeps a log of every single item customers purchase.
We know every item that everybody purchases every day. If there’s an issue with an item — be it ground beef, peaches, socks or tires — we can contact the members that purchased the item, because we have a record of that purchase.
So, seems all that creepy data collecting can be put to good use once in a while. In fact, this isn’t the first time Costco has used its consumer data to help in cases related to foodborne illness: The company teamed up with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and local investigators to help track the source of a salmonella outbreak in 2010.
According to Wilson, Costco even mailed follow-up letters to consumers after the initial phone calls. If only our roommates could be this thorough when warning us the milk has gone bad.
Identifying and connecting with customers that have purchased recalled items is a good strategy. That’s the kind of action that demonstrates the food safety culture of a business. Telling customers how this incident changes Costco’s supplier specifications/verification (at all) and how internal decisions are made are a next step in pulling back the curtain on food safety for the public.