Earlier today, Amazon.com was still selling I.M. Healthy soy nut butter that was recalled in March when federal officials traced an E. coli outbreak to the product.
No one from Seattle-based Amazon immediately responded to mid-morning requests for comment from Food Safety News, but by 11 a.m. Pacific time, the recalled peanut butter substitute had been pulled from the retailer’s website.
Officials with the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the situation but were not able to provide details as of mid-afternoon.
Although the outbreak was declared over in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that agency’s “final” report indicated additional illnesses were expected to be confirmed in relation to consumption of recalled soy nut butter products. The CDC cited the products’ long shelf life and the likelihood that some consumers still have unopened product in their homes as contributing factors to the lingering nature of the outbreak.
As of early May, the outbreak had sickened a confirmed 32 people across a dozen states. A variety of products made with soy nut butter produced by Dixie Dew Products Inc. remain under recall, including all varieties of I.M. Healthy “SoyNut Butter” products.
It is against federal law for anyone to sell or resell recalled products in any setting, including yard sales and thrift shops. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which became law in 2008, was used earlier this year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission against Home Depot. The big-box home improvement retailer agreed to pay $5.7 million in relation to charges it sold recalled smoke detectors, light fixtures, and other products.
After the Blue Bell Creameries ice cream recall that was linked to a deadly, multi-year Listeria outbreak, multiple sellers — many of them private individuals — offered the recalled ice cream for sale online. The auction site eBay, which has a policy against recalled items, removed all offers for recalled Blue Bell products from its offerings.
The Amazon.com website does not appear to offer a list of recalled products that it has offered for sale, as do many retailers. Amazon provides a list of government recall links and a “recall policy” that includes the following statement:
“Amazon monitors public recall alert websites and also learns of recalls directly from manufacturers and vendors. When we learn of a recall, we suspend all impacted product offerings from our website and quarantine any related inventory in our fulfillment centers. We also reach out to any customers that previously purchased impacted products (and any seller that may have offered such products) to inform them about the recall.”
Linda Harris, chair of the world renown Food Science and Technology Department at the University of California-Davis, said Monday that she ordered recalled I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter from Amazon.com during Labor Day weekend. She received the $50 shipment of three jars of the recalled product in less than 24 hours.
“The story really is about recalls and the ability in today’s world of recovering all product when you have a recall,” said Harris, who is the immediate past president of the International Association for Food Protection.
“They have sophisticated programs that set prices and figure out complicated delivery schemes – they should be able to make sure recalled product isn’t available for sale.”
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