An unspecified number of illnesses that may be associated with consumption of PC Organics brand baby foods have been reported in Canada.
Loblaw Companies Limited has responded by expanding its initial recall notice to include all date codes of a long list of additional products. Please refer to the recall notice for a list of affected baby food pouches. According to the recall notice, published late yesterday on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website, a “… manufacturing error resulted in excess water in the product, which under certain circumstances could support the growth of Clostridium Botulinum and pose a health risk to consumers.”
Although food contaminated with Clostridium Botulinum may not look, smell or even taste spoiled, it may contain a toxin that, if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases, the toxin can cause death.
The reported illnesses have not been definitively linked to the recalled baby food; nor have they been described as being caused by ingestion of botulinum toxin. But, the manufacturing error that triggered the food recall could have opened the door to the growth of other harmful bacteria in the baby foods – bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens, which can cause gastrointestinal illness.
Which PC Organics baby food pouch products have been recalled?
The expanded recall encompasses all date codes of the following items (128mL unless otherwise noted):
- Apple, Blueberry & Green Pea strained baby food
- Apple Crisp Muffin flavour puree snack
- Apple, Carrot, Apricot & Millet strained baby Food
- Banana, Sweet Potato & Blueberry strained baby food
- Apple strained baby food
- Apple, Banana & Blueberry with Yogurt strained baby food
- Apple, Banana & Strawberry with Yogurt strained baby food
- Apple Cherry strained baby food
- Sweet Potato, Apple and Mango strained baby food
- Peach Maple Cobbler Flavour puree snack
- Banana Apple & Carrot strained baby food
- Pumpkin, Apple, Peach & Buckwheat strained baby food
- Prune, Apple, Butternut Squash & Quinoa strained baby food
- Pear strained baby food
- Mango, Apple, Carrot & Peach strained baby food
- Blackberry Cobbler Flavour puree snack
- Banana & Kiwi strained baby food
- Mango strained baby food
- Banana & Raspberry strained baby food
- Banana, Apple, Apricot & Rice strained baby food
- Banana Bread Flavour puree snack
- Pear, Apple and Broccoli strained baby food
- Sweet Potato, Banana & Apricot strained baby food
- Tropical Twist Smoothie with Greek Yogurt puree snack
- Banana, Mango & Apple with Yogurt strained baby food
- Orange Twist Smoothie with Greek Yogurt puree snack
- Prunes strained baby food
- Apple, Banana & Strawberry with Yogurt strained baby food (6 x 128 mL)
- Sweet Potato, Apple and Mango strained baby food (6 x 128 mL)
- Banana Apple & Carrot strained baby food (6 x 128 mL)
- Mango strained baby food (6 x 128 mL)
- Pear, Apple and Broccoli strained baby food (6 x 128 mL)
How can something as simple as too much water lead to this?
Food processors walk a food-safety tightrope every day. The conditions under which sealed packages of food are processed to ensure their safety are always in a delicate balance. Even minor changes in a recipe can affect the cooking conditions required to kill harmful bacteria. One of those changes is the amount of water that is available to the bacteria, allowing them to multiply in the food. A food with little free water will need milder cooking cooking conditions (time and temperature combination) than a food with abundant free water.
Then why not treat every food with the same severe cooking conditions?
Palatability, appearance and cost. Foods processed at a higher temperature taste overcooked, lose their natural color, and their natural texture. And, higher cooking temperatures for extended periods of time are more expensive.
What should consumers do about this recall?
- Check your pantry and set aside any of the products listed in the expanded recall notice.
- DO NOT try to determine whether the food is safe by smelling or tasting them. Clostridium botulinum can multiply and produce its toxin in a food without changing its appearance, smell or taste in any way.
- Return any packages of recalled product to the place of purchase for a refund.
Where were the recalled products sold?
Ontario: Fortinos, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, valu-mart, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs, Shoppers Drug Mart, and affiliated independent stores
Atlantic: Atlantic Superstore, Dominion, Cash&Carry, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Your Independent Grocer, Shoppers Drug Mart, and affiliated independent stores
Québec: Club entrepôt, Maxi, Maxi & Cie, Presto, Provigo, Provigo le Marché, AXEP, Pharmaprix, and Intermarché
West: Extra Foods, Loblaws City Market, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Your Independent Grocer, Shoppers Drug Mart, and affiliated independent stores
Finally, if you have fed one of the recalled products to your infant or toddler, and your child is experiencing any unusual symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention.