UPDATED April 14, 2016: The Food and Drug Administration is working with Oregon Potato Co. on the recall of bulk shipments of onions that may be contaminated with Listeria. The Pasco, WA, company sells only bulk quantities of its products, therefore the FDA has not posted a recall notice. “Oregon Potato notified its customers directly of the recall because they only sell products in bulk, and customers would not be able to recognize OPC product at the retail level,” an FDA spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon. While Reser’s Fine Foods Inc. has gone public with the recall of some of its products because of possible Listeria contamination from onions, Pictsweet Co. has not been similarly forthcoming, leaving retailers who sell its frozen vegetables to issue a string of recalls. The recall of refrigerated deli-type salads from Reser’s went international Tuesday when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) posted a recall of Reser’s and Sysco branded salads. Two days earlier Reser’s recalled salads distributed to 29 states in the U.S. Reser’s produces salads for the Houston-based international foodservice supplier Sysco, which distributed them to foodservice operators including hotels, restaurants and institutional kitchens in British Columbia. The long shelf life of the salads means Sysco’s customers could still have some of the salads in stock. “Check to see if you have recalled products in your hotel, restaurant or institution,” the CFIA recall notice advises. “Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the supplier. Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.” The recalled salads in Canada can be identified with the following label information:
- Classic SYSCO brand “Elbow Macaroni Salad” distributed in 3.63 kg containers with codes of MAY-07-16, #10, UPC 0 74865 08459 8
- Reser’s brand “Deviled Egg Potato Salad” distributed in 3.63 kg containers with codes of APR-28-16, #10W, UPC 71117 00225
Reser’s U.S. recall came after one of its onion suppliers notified Reser’s officials that it was recalling one lot of its onions because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. That lot was used by Reser’s only at its Hillsboro, OR, salad facility, a company spokeswoman said Monday. “Due to this supplier recall, we are issuing a Class I Recall for the salad items manufactured at the Hillsboro Salad facility with this lot of onions. The supplier has assumed responsibility for the issue and we are no longer using onions from this source,” Reser’s spokeswoman Daniele Katcher said. Reser’s did not name the onion supplier. However, the company did coordinate its recall with the Food and Drug Administration, which posted Reser’s recall notice Sunday. Pictsweet, FDA leave recall actions to retailers Onions are also being named as the Listeria contamination source in a string of recalls by grocery retailers who stock frozen vegetables from the Pictsweet Co. St. Louis area grocer Schnucks issued the first of those recalls Sunday for two varieties of Pictsweet frozen vegetable blends. “Pictsweet has issued a recall on select items because one its ingredient suppliers, Oregon Potato Company DBA Freeze Pack, has recalled IQF (individually quick frozen) onions processed at their facility because the products may be contaminate with Listeria monocytogenes,” according to the Schnucks recall notice. Repeated requests for comment this week have gone unanswered by Pictsweet and Oregon Potato Co. Neither company has recall information on their corporate website. However, several retailers have said the Bells, TN, company notified them of a recall of its “Seasoned Blends” and “Steamable Spring Vegetables” frozen vegetable products. Retailers that have issued recall notices for Pictsweet frozen vegetable blends include Giant Food, Wegmans, Martin’s, Tops, Stop & Shop, Food Lion and Dillons. The retailers stores stretch across many states. The recalled frozen vegetable products listed in the Schnucks notice are:
- Pictsweet Seasoning Blend, 12-ounce, UPC: 7056096902, Best by date: 4/2/2018; and
- Pictsweet Steamable Spring Vegetables,10-ounce, UPC: 7056097826 Best by date: 3/19/2018.
Some retailers have published other label coding information about the recalled Pictsweet frozen vegetable blends. No illnesses have been reported in connection with any of the products recalled because of the potentially Listeria-contaminated onions. Federal health officials in the U.S. and Canada cautioned consumers and foodservice operators that they should discard or return any unused portions of the recalled salads and frozen vegetables to the place of purchase. Symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes infection can take up to 70 days to appear after exposure to the pathogen. Refrigeration and freezing do not kill Listeria. Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of listeriosis, people can die. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)