From the Salmonella-in-low-moisture foods files: gummie vitamins edition

An ongoing challenge in my home is getting my kids to eat healthy foods. We’ve tried all the strategies (introduction, hiding, urging, yelling – okay, maybe that one isn’t so good) and we’ve made some progress.

As we work on nutrition, we supplement with vitamins, of the gummie kind.

At least the kids get some essential compounds everyday if all they eat is pasta covered in parmesan cheese.B008HF3RWS_2

According to a press release, some Nature Made gummies may be contaminated with Salmonella and Staph aureus because of a testing issue.

Pharmavite LLC is recalling specific lots of Nature Made® products detailed in the chart below due to possible Salmonella or Staphylococcus aureus contamination.

We are initiating this recall out of an abundance of caution to protect public health. Pharmavite is working closely with the FDA to implement this recall and we are notifying all retail customers and distributors to remove the product from store shelves immediately. No other products are impacted by this recall. The recalled products were distributed nationwide to various major retailers.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that Salmonella and/or Staphylococcus aureus testing were not completed properly on these specific batch lots. Pharmavite has identified the cause of the error, is taking the matter very seriously and has implemented corrective actions to rectify the issue. Pharmavite cares deeply about the health and safety of consumers and we apologize for any inconvenience.

From the Salmonella-in-low-moisture-foods file: your Devil’s dung may be contaminated

A few years ago CDC foodborne illness outbreak guru Robert Tauxe told a group of food safety folks that the next big thing for food safety was low-moisture ingredients. Salmonella is hardy, especially when stressed through drying, so it sticks around for a while in dry ingredients.

Tauxe’s comments were post- Salmonella Tennessee in Peter Pan peanut butter and pre- Salmonella Wandsworth in Veggie Booty (and other outbreaks) and he talked about dried spices and flavorings and peanut butter-type products like hummus and tahini.

Six years later and Salmonella continues to pop up in dry places like asafoetida powder. I had to look it up.Unknown-8

According to Wikipedia (where everything is true):

Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb. The species is native to the deserts of Iran, mountains of Afghanistan, and is mainly cultivated in nearby India. As its name suggests, asafoetida has a fetid smell but in cooked dishes it delivers a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks.

And it is known by some as Devil’s dung.

According to FDA, Shakti Group USA LLC is recalling some Asafoetida powder,

Shakti Group USA LLC of New Brunswick, NJ is recalling 50 gm and 100 gm sizes of L.G Compounded Asafoetida Powder, both coded with Lot Number: 2323 because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

L.G COMPOUNDED ASAFOETIDA POWDER was distributed to OH, NJ, VA, NH, and PA through retail stores.

The product is packaged in a white screw cap plastic bottle with UPC 840222000149, Lot Number: 2323.

The recall was as a result of a sampling conducted by the FDA which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. Shakti Group has ceased the production and distribution of the product.

From the Salmonella-in-low-moisture-foods files: contaminated flax leads to recall

Your organic steel cut oats & chia with flax and rye flakes might have Salmonella in it, if it’s from Homestat Farms.

Homestat Farm of Dublin, OH is recalling some of its 42-ounce packages only of “Organic Steel Cut Oats & Chia with Flax And Rye Flakes” because the flax seed ingredient has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The recalled “Organic Steel Cut Oats & Chia with Flax And Rye Flakes” was distributed on a limited basis in Sams Club retail stores located in AK, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NH, OH, PA & TX.

The product comes in a 42 ounce carton UPC 8 35882 00620 4 marked with Best Buy: 03/16/17-1, 03/16/18-1, 03/19/17-1, 03/19/17-2, 03/23/17-1, 03/23/17-2, 03/24/17-1, 03/26/17-1, 03/26/17-2, 04/08/17-2. The best buy date can be found embossed on the bottom flap of box next to the bar code.

A supplier informed Homestat Farm of this after a contamination was found in flax seed provided to another customer.

That product sounds like something that Drunk Uncle might say. It probably goes well with some swiss chard on a Roku or an Amazon Prime pumpkin spice.

Listeria in low moisture foods? Sure. Sabra hummus recalled; I chucked mine

My kids don’t eat much. Their staples include bagels, buns, peanut butter, carrots, apple sauce.

And hummus.

Their brand of choice is Sabra.

I just got home from a hockey game (a 7-2 loss, we got smoked) and opened up my email and saw that a few Sabra hummus products have been recalled due to Listeria. According to a recall notice on the FDA website, it’s only few specific lots, and the recall was initiated following a routine sample by Michigan regulatory folks found contamination.SubstandardFullSizeRender-1

And I’m left with a bunch of questions. I need to know this stuff to better understand the risk to my kids.

How much contamination was there (10 cfu/g? 1,000,000 cfu/g?)?

How long was the product in storage/transport before I bought it. Now that I think of it, how long has it been in my fridge?

The stuff I have been feeding my kids has different codes. Were the containers I have made in the same facility? On the same line?

And why is Sabra so specific about the recalled SKUs? Did they have a sanitation clean break between lots?

SubstandardFullSizeRender-4Have they validated their sanitation procedures?

How well did the sanitation crew do their job?

We’ve seen other recalls expand as further information is discovered, will this one?

In the absence of answers (to stuff that should go into a recall notice) I’m chucking the half-finished containers.

And we’ll buy a different brand tomorrow.


The great hazelnut/Salmonella caper

Nuts seem to have lots of Salmonella issues. The pathogen persists nicely in the low-moisture environment and the roasting process (which is done without water) makes the bug even more hardy. Peanut butter has had well-documented problems; so have pistachios and walnuts. But why all the hazelnut focus in Canada? Over the past 6 months, Canada’s esteemed food police, CFIA, lists five Salmonella-linked health alerts linked to hazelnuts (also known as filberts) including one announced yesterday.Blanched Filberts

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain in shell hazelnuts described below because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Products were sold in packages of various weights or in bulk at the locations indicated here. Consumers who are unsure if they have affected product are advised to check with their retailer (listed as Luciano foods, Il Negozio Nicastro and the aptly-named Cananut -ben).

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.
These recalls are part of an on-going food safety investigation associated with a recall of bulk hazelnuts from USA. The CFIA is working with the recalling firms and distributors to identify all affected products.

The importer, distributers (sic), and retailers are voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

Other recalls occurred on December 2, 2012; December 5, 2012; April 4, 2013; and, April 10, 2013. A couple of these list the origin of the product as the U.S., a couple don’t. If I was in the nut-selling business I’d probably like to know if they are all coming from the same source (and who the importer is). Although the industry doesn’t always like to share that stuff.