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Recalls expand as SunOpta reopens sunflower seed plant

More granola and snack products — including Quaker Oats, Planters and Clif Bar brands — are being recalled across the U.S. and Canada because of potential Listeria contamination as production resumes at the SunOpta Inc. plant responsible for the recalls.

logo-SunOpta-406X250The Toronto-based, self-described organic/non-GMO company announced its own expanded recall for more products — including Planters brand sunflower seeds — the same day it resumed operations at the facility that produced the problematic sunflower kernels. The sunflower kernels may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious illness and sometimes death in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems.

SunOpta posted its expanded recall in the form of a news release on BusinessWire.com at 6:53 p.m. EDT yesterday, pulling back products produced from May 2015 through January this year from at least 25 states and Canada.

Six minutes, later SunOpta posted another news release saying the food processing plant that produced the recalled kernels was back in operation.

“(The company) has resumed production of roasted sunflower kernels at its facility in Crookston, MN.,” according to the second news release from Sun Opta. “Production had been paused on April 21, 2016, following the discovery of a potential contamination issue which led to a voluntary recall on a limited number of sunflower seeds produced at this facility.”

That “limited number” of sunflower seeds has led to dozens of products being recalled since May 3 when SunOpta posted its initial recall. New and expanded recalls posted yesterday and today include:

Brands included in SunOpta’s expanded recall include:

  • Sunrich Naturals;
  • Spitz, available only in Canada;
  • Kar’s;
  • Planters; and
  • Navitas Naturals.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with any of the recalled products in either country, according to recall notices on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canadian Food Inspection Agency websites.

All of the recall notices urge consumers to not eat the products. Some of the notices indicate that refunds are available. Click on the links above for details on how to identify the recalled products.

Today, Quaker Oats provided additional insight into the situation in a notice on the FDA website expanding its recall of Quinoa granola bars.

“Since May 16, SunOpta has conducted additional testing on sunflower kernels that extended beyond the original dates of concern provided. That testing is complete and as a result, out of an abundance of caution and care for the consumer, Quaker has made the decision to expand the initial recall,” according to the Quaker Oats recall notice.

SunOpta’s president Rik Jacobs said in yesterday’s news release that the company has taken steps to ensure the safety of its products and enough insurance to cover its liabilities.

“We are confident that through our work, in conjunction with external experts, we have identified and eliminated the root causes of the contamination and therefore resumed production of roasted sunflower kernel products at our facility in Crookston,” Jacobs said in the release.

“We have also enhanced our testing activities prior to all customer shipments, to give our customers the confidence that all products meet or exceed rigorous quality and food safety specifications.

“We are confident that we have the resources necessary to appropriately address this challenge, and we carry adequate insurance to help mitigate the direct and indirect costs of events such as a recall. Even though these roasted kernel products from the affected production lines at our Crookston facility represent less than 1 percent of our annual sales, we take all food safety matters very seriously, regardless of the scope of the product involved.”

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