Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recall Alert - Raw Milk Cheese

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health is alerting consumers in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to a risk of food poisoning associated with several varieties of raw milk cheese produced by Grassy Meadows Dairy of Howe, IN. The cheeses, which are being recalled by the manufacturer, contain unacceptably high levels of Staphylococcus aureus. The State Board advises consumers not to eat any cheese produced at this facility prior to January 30th.

A Look Back at January 2008

I have just returned from a month-long trip through Southeast Asia, and have been scanning through my accumulation of news archives to see what I missed. Here are a few of the things that happened in the United States and Canada while I was away.
  1. New Era Canning Company announced on January 18th a recall of green beans and canned garbanzo beans packed in #10 cans (institutional size) due to a risk of botulism. Four days later, the company expanded the recall to included all cans of green beans and garbanzo beans produced during the past five years.
  2. On January 21st, Kroger's recalled it's Tri-Bean Salad from stores in 14 states. The salads had been prepared using canned beans from New Era.
  3. FDA announced a recall of frozen salted yellow croaker and frozen dried yellow croaker on January 23rd, due to the possibility that the fish might be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
  4. USDA announced on January 5th a recall of more than 13,000 pounds of steak and ground beef products from Mark's Quality Meats of Detroit due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The meat was sold to Detroit area restaurants. No illnesses were associated with this recall.
  5. Rochester Meat Company of Rochester, MN recalled 188,000 pounds of ground beef on January 12th after six illnesses – five in Wisconsin and one in California – were linked to their meat. The ground beef had been distributed to restaurants and food service establishments nation-wide.
  6. On January 22nd, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) alerted consumers to Salmonella-contaminated organic sesame seeds. The seeds were imported from Uganda. On January 28th, Shiloh Farms of New Holland, PA announced the recall of its "Organic Unhulled Sesame Seeds", after FDA detected Salmonella in a sample of sesame seeds from one of their suppliers. Coincidence?
  7. On January 27th, CFIA warned consumers in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces to avoid consuming chicken sandwiches produced by Les Aliments Martel of Gatineau, QC, due to the risk that the sandwiches might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
  8. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an on-going outbreak of Salmonella Paratyphi B var. Java that has been linked to pet turtles. As of January 18th, there have been 103 confirmed illnesses in 33 states. Young children are especially susceptible to becoming infected as a result of handling the contaminated turtles. FDA has posted a Consumer Update on the risks associated with Salmonella in pet turtles.
  9. Finally, Washington State Department of Agriculture announced on January 29th that it had found Listeria monocytogenes in a coconut-flavored frozen dessert produced by Ca Rem #1 Ice Cream of Sea Tac, WA. The non-dairy frozen dessert was distributed mainly through Asian restaurants and markets in Western Oregon and Western Washington, and is being recalled by the manufacturer. Consumers are advised to throw away any unused product.

I'm intrigued by the sudden upsurge of major canned food recalls in the last year or two – first Castleberry's and now New Era. This sector of the food industry has been under a HACCP-style program for many decades with apparently good results. I wonder whether the chronic underfunding of FDA's food inspection activities is bearing some bitter fruit.