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Cilantro Latest in Series of MDP-Prompted Recalls

Produce testing program still slated to be cut at year's end

Testing conducted by the government’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) has prompted a recall of cilantro for potential Salmonella contamination, marking the second time this week and the third time this month that the produce testing program – scheduled to be terminated at the end of the year – has sparked a recall.

Because of MDP’s discovery, Fresco Green Farms of Winchester, California is recalling 1,643 cases of Cilantro harvested from July 18th 2012 to July 27th 2012.

Earlier this week, grape tomatoes produced by Iowa-based Menno Beachy were recalled after testing by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, one of the 11 state agencies that participate in MDP, revealed Salmonella in a sample of the product, prompting a recall Wednesday.

A day later, the Department issued another advisory about possible Salmonella contamination, this time in cilantro from Fresco Green Farms that was sold to grocery stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The stores have been asked to remove the cilantro, which was distributed between July 26 and August 6, 2012, from shelves, and consumers are advised to throw away any cilantro purchased at locations where the affected cilantro was sold. A list of these retailers is available on MDA’s website.

The grape tomato and cilantro samples that tested positive for Salmonella were both taken on July 30, but the tomato recall was issued earlier because the presence of the bacteria on the cilantro took longer to confirm, says Carrie Rigdon, Rapid Response Team Planner for Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division.

“Laboratory results are still pending on the serotype for the cilantro,” said Ridgdon in an e-mailed statement to Food Safety News.

The tomato and cilantro market withdrawals come on the heels of another MDP-prompted recall of almost 200,000 cantaloupes at the beginning of August, initiated after the New York State Department of Agriculture’s MDP program found Listeria monocytogenes on the melons.

The Microbiological Data Program, a small program housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, was originally started in 2001 as a way to keep tabs on contamination rates of fresh produce, but has expanded its role to include recall tip-offs.

The small program – which costs USDA $4.5 million a year – was scheduled to be shut down in July after being excluded from this year’s budget plan, but was put on life support after its impending shutdown was widely publicized by the media. It is now set to be canceled at the end of 2012.

A copy of the recall can be found here.

For more coverage of MDP and the controversy over its funding, see:

Microbiological Data Program Ignored in Budget Process

USDA Budget Cut Could Slash 80 Percent of Produce Testing

USDA Decides to Spare Produce Testing Program This Year

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published August 10 and was updated August 13 to include the name of the company who initiated the recall.

© Food Safety News