In a quiet but systematic way some of the nation’s largest grocery store chains are pulling hash browns from the shelves of their freezer cases because they might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
One state inspection apparently turned up the Listeria problem in hash browns. Almost three weeks ago, recalls went our from stores carrying such well-known hash brown brands as Mr. Dell’s, O’Brien’s, ShopRite, Food Club and Giant.
On Jan. 4th, ShopRite posted notice on its Web site that its Southern Style Hash Browns were being removed from its stores because routine testing by a regulatory agency discovered possible Listeria contamination. ShopRite stores are located in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
Next, Food City stores in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee recalled its 30-ounce Shredded Hash Browns. That was followed by Giant Eagle stories in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which pulled multiple varieties of hash browns for “possible bacterial contamination.”
The store recalls continued last week with Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas pulling 30-ounce Shredded Hash Browns and 28-ounce O’Brien Potatoes. King Sooper’s, the Kroger chain’s western arm, cited Listeria contamination as the reason for recalling 64-ounce Mr. Dell’s Shredded Hash Browns.
Finally, this week when the Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle updated its list of recalled hash browns said an “independent and unrelated manufacturer” of its frozen hash browns has discovered “the presence of a bacterium” in products made at one of its facilities.
Others say the state regulator of that facility found Listeria in a sample taken during routine testing. No one has said where that facility is located or who owns it.
Food safety expert Phyllis Entis, who blogs at www.eFoodAlert.com, reports there has been nothing from any state or federal agency about what amounts to a nationwide recall of certain hash browns. She has tracked it through the retailers.
In 2008, Canada experienced a nationwide Liseria outbreak from ready-to-eat meats that eventually killed 22 mostly elderly Canadians.