Ontario health officials have renewed their warning about Neilson brand chocolate milk and a Listeria investigation, warning consumers, restaurants and foodservice operators to check supplies on hand to make sure they don’t consume or serve the recalled milk. Toronto-based Saputo Inc. recalled various sizes of Neilson brand partly skimmed chocolate milk because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled milk has best-by dates up to and including June 22, so health officials believe there is a good chance consumers and commercial kitchens may still have the milk on hand. “This chocolate milk product has now been linked to an ongoing Listeria investigation in Ontario associated with human illness,” according to the renewed warning on Sunday evening from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. “Consumers who have purchased recalled milk products should throw the products out or return them to the store where they were purchased. Persons who believe they are ill as a result of consuming these products should contact their doctor. This is especially important for persons who are of high risk for severe illness and complications, including the elderly, people who have underlying medical conditions, compromised immune systems and pregnant women. Our public health partners are further notifying institutions such as long-term care homes, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and daycares.” The updated warning did not include any information about the number of people sickened by the milk. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care did not immediately respond to requests for information on the outbreak. Saputo initially recalled only 4-liter bags of Neilson brand partly skimmed chocolate milk on June 4. The following day the company expanded the recall to include other sizes of containers. The recall now includes all products manufactured until June 3 on the affected production line of its Georgetown, Ontario, facility. They have best before dates up to and including June 22. “The affected products have been sold through retail outlets, supermarkets and food service institutions such as restaurants, hospitals, day care centers and nursing homes,” according to the notice on the Saputo website. “If you believe you may have purchased an affected product, please return it to the place of purchase for a refund.” All of the implicated milk carries the plant registration number 1590. Other identifying labeling information on the recalled milk includes:
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 4-liter bags, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 00047 3;
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 2-liter cartons, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 00042 8;
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 1-liter cartons, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 00043 5;
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 750-milliliter cartons, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 10068 5;
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 473-milliliter cartons, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 10023 4; and
- Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 237-milliliter cartons, All Best Before dates up to and including JN22, UPC number 0 66800 10017 3.
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Symptoms 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 illness, people may die. “We are taking the situation very seriously. We are sorry for the individuals who became ill,” Saputo CEO Lino A. Saputo Jr. said in a statement attached to the Sunday warning. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our products. We are doing everything within our power to ensure our products meet the high quality standards expected from us.” (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)