Recalls and Rumors – DFI Cantaloupe


When DFI Marketing Inc. (Fresno, CA) recalled some cantaloupe melons on September 12, 2012, the story went something like this:

  • DFI routinely samples products for food borne pathogens prior to harvest; the testing is carried out by third-party labs.
  • The company’s internal sampling of the cartons involved in the recall were negative for Salmonella.
  • USDA found Salmonella on a single sample of cantaloupe during routine testing conducted at a wholesale produce distribution center (terminal market).
  • DFI, in consequence, recalled approximately 28,000 cartons of cantaloupes packed on August 26, 2012 as a precaution.

As so often happens in today’s world of sub-distributors and further processors, the DFI recall triggered others – including a September 13th recall announcement from Cut Fruit Express, Inc. (Inver Grove Heights, MN) and several supermarket chains. This time, though, there was an unusual wrinkle to the story.

Yesterday morning (Sept. 18th), I received an email from the Director of Quality Systems at one of the affected companies. This person had just been advised by their supplier that Salmonella had been found on the knife used to sample the DFI cantaloupe, and that DFI had been “cleared.” Naturally, my correspondent was eager to get to the bottom of this. As was I.

While my correspondent checked with FDA and with DFI, I queried USDA. Both FDA and DFI responded that the rumor was false; DFI even commented that they had heard the same rumor the day before from a different source.

Today, I received the following detailed reply from Shayla Mae Bailey, from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services’ Public Affairs desk:

I received your inquiry about the DFI Cantaloupe recall, and spoke with the MDP program about the rumors surrounding the lab’s results. Below is more detail about how samples are handled during our testing.

The Microbiological Data Program (MDP) recently reported a positive Salmonella enteritidis detection in cantaloupe to the Food and Drug Administration. The cantaloupes were distributed by the firm, DFI Marketing, Inc. of California, and were collected and tested in Colorado. Questions have surfaced about the validity of MDP’s reported results, especially in regard to sample handling and possible control contamination. MDP stands by its results. To ensure the reliability of results MDP relies on the expertise of trained State Department of Agriculture sample collectors.

Collectors follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) and use aseptic technique (one-time use sterile gloves and sterile collection bags) when collecting samples for MDP. Collected samples are properly packaged and shipped the same day for overnight delivery to a MDP testing laboratory. After chain-of-custody receipt requirements are met, experienced laboratory personnel also use aseptic technique and follow SOPs to prepare samples for testing. To remove the chance for contamination, no cutting or slicing occurs for any MDP samples prior to or during any testing procedures.

When a positive is initially detected, MDP requires additional confirmation and this usually involves as many as five additional tests to be performed on the positive samples. In addition to the multiple confirmatory tests, MDP requires the laboratories to use special fluorescent-tagged controls throughout all testing procedures. These fluorescent-tagged controls allow for quick identification and also insures that a positive detection is a true result and not a control contamination. All MDP laboratories have achieved ISO 17025 certification and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for handling bacterial pathogens. For more details on MDP testing procedures, SOPs are accessible online at the website, www.usda.ams.gov/mdp.

Bottom line: The USDA stands by its results. The rumor is false. The recall is real.

Recalls and Alerts: September 15, 2012


Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

  • Food Safety Recall: Hannaford Bros Co. alerts its customers to the recall of cantaloupes by DFI Marketing due to possible Salmonella contamination. The cantaloupes in question were sold between September 5-13, 2012; if stickered, the label on the item will read PLU 4050. Customers are requested to dispose of the cantaloupe and return the sticker to the store for a full refund.
  • Food Safety Alert (California): The California Department of Public Health is advising consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab and lobster taken from the northern Channel Islands located offshore of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Dangerous levels of the nerve toxin domoic acid have been detected in some of these species and may be present in the other species not yet tested. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that can cause illness or death in humans.

Canada

  • Allergy Alert: Tout Prêt Express inc. (Mascouche, QC) recalls all Tarte aux bleuets à l’ancienne maison (850g), Tarte aux quatre fruits – garniture maison (500g), Tarte aux pommes – garniture maison (850g) and Tartes aux framboises – garniture maison (500g)/Homestyle blueberry pie, four-fruit pie, apple pie and raspberry pie, due to the presence of undeclared egg.
  • Allergy Alert: Parthenon Food Importers Ltd. recalls Kydon brand Tahini (Product of Greece; 500ml container; UPC 6 90651 77450 6; Best before 16-10-2013), due to the presence of undeclared peanuts. The recalled product was distributed in British Columbia.

Europe

  • Food Safety Alert (Czech Republic): BBC reports that the Czech government has banned the sale of all spirits containing more than 20% alcohol after a spate of methanol poisoning that has claimed 19 lives. The poisonings were blamed on bootleg vodka and rum tainted with the deadly alcohol compound. About 30 people are being treated in hospital for methanol poisoning. Norway has donated an antidote called fomepizole to aid the Czech victims.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall web site.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.

Recalls and Alerts: September 14, 2012


Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

  • Allergy Alert: Zatarains alerts consumers that New Orleans Style Chicken Flavored Rice Mix (UPC 7142909705; Best by dates Apr 23 14 H, Jun 10 14 H, Jul 30 14 H and Aug 31 14 H) may contain undeclared wheat. Schnucks Markets, Inc. invites customers of Schnucks, Logli and Hilander to return the product to their nearest store for a refund or exchange. Tops invites its customers to do the same.
  • Food Safety Recall: The University Creamery at Penn State recalls all ice cream and frozen yogurt made between May 16, 2012 and August 11, 2012 (Best if used by date on or between Feb 10, 2013 and Aug. 11, 2013) because of isolated incidents involving reports of small plastic foreign objects in the product. The recalled ice cream was made and sold from the Berkey Creamery on the University Park campus of Penn State and also was available for purchase on the internet from the Creamery’s website. University police have begun a criminal investigation into the rreports.
  • Food Safety Recall: Meca Foods recalls La Tia Tamales brand Home Style Tamales – Green Pork, Home Style Tamales – Red Pork and Home Style Tamales – Chicken (All items were produced between April 2011 and September 2012 and bear Est. 699 inside the Illinois mark of inspection), because the product was manufactured in a facility that is not state-inspected. The establishment number on the products does not belong to the firm. The recalled products were sold to brokers and restaurants in Chicago.
  • Food Safety Recall: Serenade Foods, Inc. (Milford, IN) recalls Milford Valley Farms Crunchy Chicken Strips (7.5-lb cases containing 30-oz cartons; Est P-2375; UPC 0-73981-32286-7; Use by Jan 17, 2014), after two consumers reported finding plastic fragments in the product. The recalled product was packaged on Jan 17, 2012 and shipped to a distributor in Lakeland, Florida for further distribution.
  • Food Safety Recall: Cut Fruit Express, Inc. (Inver Grove Heights, MN) recalls packaged fruit products containing cantaloupes (Distributed through September 5, 2012), since they contain cantaloupe recalled by DFI Marketing Inc. due to potential contamination with Salmonella. The recalled fruit products were sold in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • Food Safety Recall: US Foods alerts its customer to the recall of cantaloupes by DFI Marketing (Fresno, CA), due to possible Salmonella contamination. The recall has triggered recalls from other distributors and further processors, including Castellini Brothers, Club Chef, Cut Fruit Express and McEntire Product, and will likely expand further.
  • Food Safety Recall: Kroger alerts its customers to the recall of cantaloupes by DFI Marketing due to possible Salmonella contamination. The recalled cantaloupes were sold in Kroger stores located in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Knoxville, Tennessee, Greater Cincinnati, including Northern Kentucky, Dayton, OH and South Eastern Indiana, Indiana (except SW IN, -Evansville-), Illinois, Eastern Missouri, Greater Memphis, TN, Arkansas, Mississippi and Western Kentucky, Texas and Louisiana; Jay C, Dillons, Baker’s, Gerbes, Fry’s, Food4Less, FoodsCo and Smith’s.

Canada

  • Allergy Alert: Valley Flax Flour recalls Valley Flax Flour Wheat Free Pancake Mix (500g; Codes PC12145, PC12199 and PC12202; UPC 52203 00051 2), due to the presence of undeclared gluten. The recalled product was sold in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Europe

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall web site.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.