January 27, 2023

The FDA’s “Best” Worst Warning Letters of 2022

When the FDA discovers that a company has significantly violated federal regulations, the agency issues a warning letter. These letters enumerate some of the key violations and instruct the offender to devise and execute a plan to correct them within a designated timeline. All of these letters deal with serious food safety violations - filth, pests, bacteria, but some really stand out. Here are some of the notable warning letters the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent in 2022. "A History of Infestation" Dollar Tree Inc. This letter, sent November 8, 2022, pertains to an FDA inspection that took place January 11 - February 11, 2022, at Family Dollar Distribution Inc., located at 1800 Family Dollar Parkway, West Memphis, AR. At that time, the facility stored and distributed … [Read more...]

What FDA Isn’t Saying About an Enoki Mushroom Listeria Recall

When a recent Listeria recall set off some alarm bells at Food Poisoning Bulletin a couple of weeks ago, we asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) how banned enoki mushrooms made their way to store shelves.  The answer, it seems, is that the agency is still trying to work that out. A Problematic Recall The FDA doesn't like to use the term "banned," they told us. But a ban is the net effect when the FDA issues a countrywide import alert for a food product. This action means that the agency has gathered enough evidence to show that the product is in violation of FDA laws and regulations and can be detained at the border without physical inspection. In the case of enoki mushrooms from Korea, the evidence includes a 2020 Listeria outbreak in the U.S. that killed four people … [Read more...]

Enoki Mushrooms are the Most Recalled Food of 2022

With one month to go before the end of the year, there have already been 11 Listeria recalls for enoki mushrooms, making them the food most recalled for bacterial contamination in 2022. It wasn't a close contest. Any commodity vying for the distant second-place finish  -cheese, leafy greens, ground beef, has had fewer than half as many recalls so far this year. And there's a decent chance that, before the year's end, there will be a 12th enoki mushroom recall. That's because no recall has been issued in connection with an ongoing enoki mushroom Listeria outbreak. Two years ago, a Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms from Korea sickened 36 people killing four of them. That outbreak was connected to three recalls and the origin of each one we've seen since. After the deadly … [Read more...]

Did Banned Enoki Mushrooms Make Their Way to Store Shelves?

On November 17, Green Day Produce of Vernon, CA issued a Listeria recall for enoki mushrooms imported from Korea. But why were they on store shelves in the first place? Due to widespread problems with Listeria contamination in enoki mushrooms from Korea, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a countrywide import alert for them four months ago. This action essentially bans the import of all enoki mushrooms from the Republic of Korea. Companies seeking an exemption can submit documentation that the product has been tested and is pathogen-free, but even this does not guarantee that the product will be admitted to the U.S., according to the FDA website's information about import alerts. Firms that meet the criteria for exemption from an import alert are added to a "green … [Read more...]

What Do Inspection Reports for Big Olaf Creamery Reveal?

Last week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  (FDACS) revealed that Listeria had been found in 10 environmental swabs and samples from 16 different flavors of ice cream at Big Olaf Creamery's production plant in Sarasota, FL. The samples were collected after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on July 2 that epidemiological evidence identified the ice cream as the source of a Listeria outbreak that has sickened 23 people over an 18-month period. One of the patients died and another suffered a miscarriage. Presented with that information, Big Olaf declined to issue a recall. Then a spokesperson for the company issued a statement that deemed the epidemiological information "speculative" and wondered why the company was being unfairly … [Read more...]

Big Olaf Who? Amid Outbreak Shops Ditch Ice Cream, Branding

For Big Olaf, the break-ups came quickly but not all at once. And not all of them quietly. In the two and half weeks since Big Olaf ice cream was linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak, licensed shops throughout Florida started switching to new suppliers. One owner has permanently changed the names of the two stores she operates. Although Listeria isn't as common as other foodborne pathogens. It is the most deadly. And it targets pregnant women, who can suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth if they develop an infection. "Five of the patients in this outbreak are women who contracted listeriosis while they were pregnant," said Eric Hageman, a Listeria lawyer, and Food Poisoning Bulletin Publisher. Hageman has extensive experience with Listeria lawsuits including one filed on behalf of a … [Read more...]

2021 Meat and Poultry Recalls Lower Than Average

In-depth analysis from Food Poisoning Bulletin In 2021, meat and poultry recalls rose from their all-time low in 2020 but were still well below recent averages, according to a review by Food Poisoning Bulletin. Prior to the pandemic, the four-year annual average was 128 recalls with an average of 26 recalls for bacterial contamination by one of the three major pathogens - E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. In 2020, just 32 recalls were issued for meat and poultry and only one of them was for bacterial contamination. In 2021, there were a total of 47 meat and poultry recalls. Of those, 11 were for E. coli, Salmonella or Listeria. That’s a significant increase from 2020’s solitary E. coli recall, but it’s a 58 percent decline from the pre-pandemic four-year … [Read more...]

How Does Greenhouse-grown Lettuce Get Contaminated with Pathogens?

Since mid-July, there have been two recalls for salad greens grown in greenhouses, one of them in conjunction with a multistate Salmonella outbreak. These recalls have some consumers wondering how does greenhouse-grown lettuce get contaminated with pathogens? The first recall was linked to herbs and salad greens produced by BrightFarms of Rochelle, IL. On July 15, BrightFarms issued a recall for a variety of products packaged in clamshell containers and sold at grocery stores in five states. On July 22, health officials identified BrightFarms salad greens and herbs as the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 11 people in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  In recent years, consumers have learned from a string of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that neighboring livestock farms can … [Read more...]

Queso Fresco Listeria Outbreak Spotlights High Risk for Pregnant Women

The ongoing queso fresco Listeria outbreak is spotlighting the tremendous risk listeriosis poses to pregnant women, especially those who are Hispanic. Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to contract Listeria infections, 24 times more likely if they are Hispanic. And, among pregnant women, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and infection in newborns even if the expectant mother only experiences mild symptoms. In this outbreak, linked to cheeses produced by El Abuelito of Paterson, NJ, 11 people have been sickened and one person has died, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two of the 11 illnesses are pregnancy-associated and include a newborn and a pregnant woman who … [Read more...]

Multiple Grocery Stores Update Secondary Listeria Monocytogenes Recalls for Produce

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration reports that several grocery stores that issued secondary recalls of produce products last week have either updated or revised their lists of the items subject to recall. These recalls were prompted by the large-scale recall by Salinas, CA-based Mann’s Packing of thousands of pounds of minimally processed vegetables they distributed across the United States and Canada. This original recall was announced after the Canadian Inspection Service revealed it had found a single positive result of Listeria monocytogenes contamination during a random sampling of Mann Packing’s Produce. Listeria is a very serious variety of food poisoning that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn children – it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or … [Read more...]

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