Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Rotten Egg Spoils The Salads

Reposted from

On January 26th, Michael Foods alerted its customers in the food service sector to a Class I recall of three lot codes of Papetti’s Brand hard-cooked eggs (sold in 25-lb tubs; Lot codes 1362W, 1363W, and 1364W; Use by dates of February 11th, 12th and 13th), after product testing revealed possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled eggs were supplied to foodservice distributors such as US Foods and Sysco. Even though the recall bore the highest risk classification (Class I) – and even though Michael Foods’ facility is under FDA jurisdiction – notice of the recall did not appear on the FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts web page. The public became aware of this recall on January 27th, when 18th Street Deli Increcalled 118 pounds of Julienne salad products containing eggs that were included in the Michael Foods recall.

As has happened so often in recent years, the initial recall soon was expanded to include additional lot codes. On February 1st, Michael Foods announced the recall of hard-cooked eggs sold under six brand names (Columbia Valley Farms, GFS, Glenview Farms, Papetti’s, Silverbrook, and Wholesome Farms). The recall covered all 10- and 25-pound pails of hard-cooked eggs packed in brine bearing lot codes 1 LOT 1350W through 1 LOT 2025W (“1″ refers to the production line impacted by the recall; “W” identifies the eggs as coming from the Wakefield, NE production plant), and expiration dates ranging from 1/30/201 to 3/10/2012.

The eggs covered in the expanded recall, according to Michael Foods, were supplied to food distributors and manufacturers located in 34 states (AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, WA, WI, and WV); none of the eggs were sold directly to retailers or consumers.

The company explained that the recall was expanded after “…a thorough investigation which indicated a specific repair project that took place in the packaging room as the likely source of the contamination.” In other words, once again, a company manufactured and has shipped a ready-to-eat product before ensuring that the production environment was microbiologically secure.

As a result of this “wing and a prayer” approach to food safety, several companies have been faced with initiating precautionary recalls. I certainly hope that Michael Foods’ liability insurer has deep enough pockets to cover the cost of all of these secondary recalls.

Most of the retail-level recalls triggered by the distribution of contaminated hard-cooked eggs affect ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches. I have posted a separate page listing the recalled items announced so far, including information on their retail distribution. I shall be updating the recall list as I learn of additional items.

If you have purchased a salad or sandwich mentioned in any of these recalls, please discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Listeria monocytogenescan be a deadly illness, especially for the elderly, the very young, people with reduced immunity and pregnant women. Do not take a chance with your health or with the health of your family members.