Recalls and Alerts: May 3-4, 2022

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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.

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Chapter 6. Birth of a Pathogen

United States

Food Safety Recall: Queen Bee LLC recalls multiple candy products, including a variety of honey caramel candy products and chocolates (production dates through April 26, 2022) due to undeclared milk and tree nuts. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall: Safeway Fresh Food, LLC recalls Dole FRESH Takes CLASSIC CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD (13.6-oz. plastic bowl; Lot S109000 1; Use by 05/05/2022) due to undeclared anchovies, egg and wheat.

Canada

Allergy Alert: TJX Canada recalls Pimlico Confectioners brand and Keats London brand vegan chocolate products due to undeclared milk. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall:  Les Saveurs de l’archipel (Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, QC) recalls two products due to lack of storage temperature labeling. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall Update: Foodfest International 2000 Inc. recalls various Elite brand products due to possible Salmonella contamination. Label information may appear in English or in Hebrew. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Europe

Allergy Alert (France): TANG FRERES recalls Yuki & Love brand Taiwan Mochi (140g; Best before 07/10/2022) due to undeclared sesame.

Allergy Alert (Netherlands): Jumbo recalls Jumbo Chocolade pasta melk / Milk chocolate spread (400g; Best before 31-08-2022) due to undeclared hazelnut.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): AMANDEX recalls multiple Elite Strauss brand chocolate products due to possible Salmonella contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Jumbo recalls Jumbo fromage Abbaye en tranches / sliced cheese (150g; All expiration dates) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Carrefour recalls Carrefour Figues séchées Bio / Organic dried figs (200g; Best before 20/06/2022, 27/06/2022, 04/07/2022, 11/07/2022 & 18/07/2022) due to elevated ochratoxin level.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Aldi recalls FROMAGE BELGE TRANCHES – variante ABBAYE TENDRE / sliced Belgian cheese (175g; Best before 06/06/22) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): KAASIMPORT JAN DUPONT recalls Kwaremont fromage à la bière / Beer cheese (225g; Best before 04/05/2022, 09/05/22, 10/05/22, 11/05/22, 14/05/22, 16/05/22, 17/05/22) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Cora recalls Figues séchées bio cora / Cora dried organic figs (220g; Best before 25/05/2022, 28/05/2022 & 05/06/2022) due to elevated ochratoxin level.

Food Safety Recall (Finland): Lidl recalls Kania tomaattikeitto kasviksilla ja lihapullilla / Tomato soup with vegetables and meatballs (570 ml) due to foreign matter contamination (hard pieces of plastic).

Food Safety Recall (France): FROMAGERIE LE CENTURION recalls Pavé Hauts de France cheese (230g; multiple lot codes and Best before dates) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (France): FROMAGERIE LE CENTURION recalls Petit Marché brand Fromage d’Abbaye en dés / Diced cheese (120g; Lot 54001545; Best before 28/06/2022) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): NOUVELLE SALAISONS VOSGIENNES recalls OZTAT brand CHIPOLATA DE VOLAILLE TOMATE BASILIC HALAL / Halal poultry sausage with tomato and basil (5 kg tray; Lot 16152122; Use by 12/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): NOUVELLES SALAISONS VOSGIENNES recalls ORIENTAL VIANDES brand CHIPOLATA DE VOLAILLE TOMATE BASILIC HALAL / Halal poultry sausage with tomato and basil (1 kg tray; Lot 16312122; Use by 12/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Roulade jambon / Ham roll (1/2 roll; Lots 220328000 & 220407000; Use by 27/05/2022 & 07/06/2022, respectively) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Roulade champignons / Mushroom roll (1/2 roll; Lots 220328000 & 220407000; Use by 27/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Roulade à l’ail / garlic roll (1/2 roll; Lot 220407000; Use by 27/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Roulade hongroise aux piments / Hungarian roll with chili (1/2 roll; Lot 220321000; Use by 27/05/2022 & 31/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Pâté au confit d’oignon / Pâté with onion confit (3.2 kg; Lot 220413000; Use by 25/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): SALAISONS DES BELIERS DEBEAUVOORDER recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand Pâté aux endives / Pâté with endives (3.2 kg; Lot 220413000; Use by 29/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): MAISON CHAPUIS recalls MAISON CHAPUIS brand FROMAGE DE TETE PERSILLE / Head cheese with parsley (350g; Lots 321030178 & 321040023; Use by dates between 13/05/2022 and 01/06/2022) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): ANDRE LOUSSOUARN recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand PATE A LA GRECQUE / Greek-style pâté (2 kg; Lot 220415000; Use by 31/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): ANDRE LOUSSOUARN recalls DEBEAUVOORDER brand PATE 4 SAISONS/ 4 seasons pâté (2 kg; Lot 220415000; Use by 31/05/2022) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): FROMAGERIE DU VIVARAIS  recalls FROMAGERIE DU VIVARAIS brand SALAD’OUX (Multiple sizes, lot codes and Best before dates) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Milcobel Kaasimport Jan Dupont recalls FROMAGE BELGE TRANCHES – variante ABBAYE TENDRE / sliced Belgian cheese (175g; Best before 06/06/22) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): KAASIMPORT JAN DUPONT recalls Kwaremont fromage à la bière / Beer cheese (225g; Best before 04/05/2022, 09/05/22, 10/05/22, 11/05/22, 14/05/22, 16/05/22, 17/05/22) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Germline recalls three varieties of organic sprouts due to possible Salmonella contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Cora recalls Nature bio Figues séchées / Organic dried figs (220g; Use by 25/05/2022, 28/05/2022 & 05/06/2022) due to elevated ochratoxin level.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): Jumbo recalls Jumbo abdijkaas plak / Abbey cheese slice (150g; All Best before dates) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): Aldi recalls Abdij Zacht / Soft cheese (175g; Expiry 06/06/22) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Norway): Kanda AS recalls Hamburger Homestyle (Batch #26042022; Bset before 26.02.2023) due to Salmonella contamination.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

OUTBREAK INVESTIGATION (Israel): The Israel Ministry of Health reports 21 cases of Salmonella infections that may be linked to contaminated Strauss-Elite brand chocolate products. Strauss has recalled the entire production from its Nof HaGlil’ manufacturing facility and the operation has been shut down until the company addresses all outstanding food safety issues to the Ministry’s satisfaction.

Allergy Alert (Israel): Motishaf Ltd. recalls Pesto spread (180g; All production dates up to and including 4/4/22) due to undeclared walnuts.

Food Safety Recall (Israel): Roasting House Rama Ltd. recalls Rama Roasting House brand ground black pepper (100g & 400g plastic jars; All expiration dates up to and including 05/04/2023) due to elevated aflatoxin levels.

Food Safety Recall (Israel): Carmel Delicacies Ltd. recalls Mercato brand Acorn mini-kabob (880g; Expiration date 19.6.2022) due to Clostridium perfringens contamination.

Australia and New Zealand

Food Safety Recall (New Zealand): Foodstuffs Own Brands Ltd recalls Pams brand Mini Hash Browns (750g; Best before 24 Apr 2024) due to foreign matter contamination (blue plastic pieces).

Elite chocolate products linked to Israeli Salmonella outbreak

Twenty-one cases of Salmonella infection may be linked to Strauss-Elite chocolate products manufactured in Nof HaGlil’, Israel, according to a report from the Israel Ministry of Health.

Six of the outbreak victims have been hospitalized.

Samples have been collected from 16 of the victims for lab analysis.

The timeline

On April 19, 2022, Strauss notified the Ministry of Health that Salmonella had been detected in the manufacturing area.

In response, the Ministry instructed Strauss to conduct more extensive testing of its finished products, raw materials, and production environment.

No recall was ordered, and there is no indication that either retailers or consumers were alerted to a potential problem at that time.

After finding additional Salmonella-positive samples, Strauss announced a voluntary recall of multiple Elite brand chocolate products on April 25th.

The following day, the Ministry of Health conducted an inspection of the Nof HaGlil’ production facility.

On April 27th, Strauss expanded its recall to include all expiration dates of “…all of the products manufactured by Elite’s chocolate factory, Elite cakes, Elite wafers, cereal energy bars, chocolate-coated energy rice crisps, bubble gums and taffy candies.”

Inspection results

During the course of its inspection, the Ministry of Health found “significant failings in the Company’s protocols and its conduct.”

As a result, the Ministry has suspended the company’s manufacturing certificate for a period of three months, or until all of the failings have been recitfied.

The issues highlighted in the Ministry’s news release include:

  • Over the last few months, maintenance works have been performed in the factory all the while the chocolate manufacturing actions continued unchanged, without taking into account the potential risks that may influence the manufacturing process and the factory’s quality control. 
  • During the Ministry of Health’s inspection, the Manufacturer disclosed that several weeks before there was an incident of pigeon infestation in the manufacturing area in the factory. The Company stated that the matter was dealt with immediately and that an exterminator was brought in. However, the Company was required to conduct extensive tests to check whether or not the pigeon infestation influenced the safety of the product in any way. 
  • It was found that the factory’s quality assurance staff has been replaced over the course of last year and that furthermore. Furthermore, the factory’s position for director of food safety was left temporarily vacant. These facts are indicative of the fact that the quality assurance and safety array in the factory was lacking. 
  • Upon the Ministry of Health’s inspection, it was found that a client of the factory has filed a complaint that salmonella indicators were higher than the levels permitted for liquid chocolate. However, the complaint was not processed by the factory as required and no tests were performed to determine the presence of salmonella bacteria. 
  • Upon inspection, a significant failing has been detected in the defrosting of the dairy fat component of milk chocolate. It was found that the defrosting process was not executed in accordance with the manufacturer’s defrosting and storage instructions, a failing that may lead to contamination. 

No link to Ferrero-Kinder Salmonella outbreak

To date, approximately 300 samples have been tested, and Salmonella has been recovered from thirty of them.

Fourteen of the cultures have been identified as Salmonella enterica S.16:1, v. –. Work is still in progress on the other samples.

This strain is completely different from the monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium cultures recovered from Ferrero-Kinder chocolates and from clinical samples in the multinational outbreak linked to those products.

Advice for consumers

The recalled chocolates were distributed to a number of countries around the world, including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.

  • Discard all Elite chocolate products.
  • If you have consumed an Elite chocolate product and are experiencing symptoms of Salmonella (diarrhea, fever, cramps and vomiting), consult your healthcare professional.

Learn more about Salmonella in chocolate in TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, now available in digital, print and audiobook editions.

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“Reads like a true crime novel” – Food Safety News

Abbott, Ferrero & Strauss – Oh, My!

Analysis and Op-Ed

Although the names sound as though they belong on the letterhead of a law practice, or of an accounting firm, Abbott Nutrition, Ferrero International, and Strauss Group are three distinct companies, located in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, respectively.

Each of these companies is currently managing multinational product recalls.

And two of the recalls have been associated with outbreaks of foodborne disease.

Strauss – Elite Chocolate

On April 19, 2022, Strauss notified Israel’s Ministry of Health that routine testing had revealed the presence of Salmonella “in the manufacturing area” of the company’s Nof HaGlil’ production facility.

The factory manufactures a range of Elite brand chocolate products, and also supplies chocolate to other food processors.

The Ministry of Health instructed Strauss to conduct more extensive tests on its finished products, raw materials, and production environment.

On April 21, 2022, using a rapid test, Strauss found indications of Salmonella in some raw material.

It took an additional three days to confirm these preliminary positive results, during which time no warning was issued to the public. Nor, as far as we can tell, was any product put on hold.

On April 24, 2022, once the preliminary results had been confirmed, Strauss initiated a recall of multiple Elite chocolate products, explaining that Salmonella had been discovered in the production line at the company’s Nof HaGlil’ manufacturing plant. Samples of chocolate used as an ingredient for other products also tested positive for Salmonella.

On April 25, 2022, Unilever Israel recalled multiple ice cream products that contained chocolate supplied by Strauss.

On April 27, 2022, more than one full week after first reporting the presence of Salmonella in the production plant, Strauss expanded its recall to include all expiration dates of all products manufactured by Elite’s chocolate factory, including Elite cakes, Elite wafers, cereal energy bars, chocolate-coated energy rice crisps, bubble gums and taffy candies.

The company has suspended operations at the manufacturing facility while it conducts and investigation into the cause and source of the contamination and carries out an intensive cleaning and sanitizing of the production area.

In addition to being sold throughout Israel, products manufactured in the Nof HaGlil’ facility were exported to multiple countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.

Although Israel’s Ministry of Health has not announced any indications of an outbreak linked to the recalled chocolates, The Jerusalem Post reported that a 10-year-old boy was diagnosed with Salmonella on April 27th after being admitted to hospital with severe dehydration as a result of extensive vomiting and diarrhea.

Ferrero – Kinder chocolate products

On December 15, 2021, Ferrero detected Salmonella on the surface and in residual raw materials samples taken from buttermilk tanks in its Arlon, Belgium manufacturing facility.

The company did not notify the Belgian food safety authority of this finding until early April 2022.

Instead, Ferrero suspended production, destroyed the affected semi-finished product, carried out a deep cleaning of the entire line, and resumed production. Finished product manufactured on the line was released for distribution following negative test results.

Additional samples tested in January 2022 also were positive for Salmonella, including two samples from two buttermilk tanks, recorded on January 11th.

As before, the company suspended production, deep-cleaned the line and gradually resumed production.

On February 17, 2022, the UK reported a cluster of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium cases to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).

Between January 5th and February 8th, Ferrero had submitted nine Salmonella cultures to an Italian lab for serological and molecular typing.

Four of those cultures were a match for the outbreak strain.

By April 8, 2022, the ECDC had received reports of 150 cases from nine EU countries and the UK.

Most of the cases were in children less than ten years of age, and many of the children were hospitalized.

On April 8th, the Belgian food safety authority withdrew its production authorization for Ferrero’s Arlon manufacturing facility, announcing that it could not rely on the information the company had been providing.

That same day, Ferrero recalled all of the Kinder chocolate products manufactured in the Arlon facility.

As of April 19th, the number of cases had risen to 187 cases in 11 EU countries and the UK.

On April 22, 2022, the company expanded its recall to include additional products.

Abbott Nutrition – Powdered infant formula

It could be argued that Strauss’s delay in recalling its chocolate products was relatively minor and without any significant impact on public health.

It is more difficult to justify a similar argument in the case of Ferrero.

Had the company destroyed the finished products impacted by its buttermilk contamination rather than testing and releasing, a multi-national Salmonella outbreak most likely would have been avoided.

Yet, Ferrero’s actions pale in comparison to the situation at Abbott Nutriton’s Sturgis, Michigan production facility, as alleged in a whistleblower complaint lodged with the FDA last October.

According to the whistleblower, company management has been falsifying records, shortchanging preventative maintenance, skimping on sanitation, and turning a blind eye to microbiological problems in the plant.

While we have only the whisteblower’s word for many of the allegations, some of what he or she has reported has been substantiated in the FDA’s Establishment Inspection Reports from September 2019 and September 2021, and in the Inspectional Observations (FDA Form 483) documented during the January – March 2022 investigation of the Sturgis facility, as described in earlier eFoodAlert posts.

FDA actions vis-a-vis Abbott Nutrition

The apparent ease with which Abbott allegedly pulled the wool over the eyes of FDA inspectors during the 2019 and 2021 inspections is troubling, to say the least.

Even though the inspectors were advised during the September 2021 plant visit of consumer complaints of Salmonella infections associated with Abbott products, they did not carry out any independent environmental sampling during the course of their plant visits. Instead, they relied on the company’s reports of how the complaints were investigated and deemed to be unsubstantiated.

Reports of equipment maintenance also were taken at face value, as were sanitation records.

Coincidentally, while the FDA inspectors were on site at Abbott in September 2021, the agency was alerted to the first of four confirmed reports of Cronobacter sakazakii in an infant who had been fed an Abbott powdered infant formula.

The following month, on October 20, 2021, the whistleblower complaint was submitted to the FDA.

The agency did not get around to interviewing the whistleblower until late December, and the FDA did not begin its in-depth investigation into the operations of Abbott’s Sturgis facility until January 31, 2022.

By then, two additional reports of Cronobacter-infected infants and one report of a Salmonella-infected infant had been lodged with the FDA.

Before the completion of the January – March 2022 Abbott inspection, a fourth Cronobacter-infected infant was identified.

TWO OF THE FOUR CRONOBACTER-INFECTED INFANTS DIED.

What next for food safety?

Had Ferrero been living up to its responsibility to produce safe food, there would have been no outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium in Europe and the UK.

Had Abbott been living up to its responsibility, the four infants would not have become infected with Cronobacter, and the parents of the two dead babies would have been spared a lifetime of grieving.

Likewise, had the FDA lived up to its responsibilities, Abbott’s behavior might have come to light at least two years ago, and the company would have been brought to heel.

There is no excuse for Ferrero, for Abbott Nutrition, or for the FDA.

It is time for food companies who flout good manufacturing practices and who put consumers at risk to pay for their malfeasance.

And it is past time for the US Congress to take a good, long, hard look at the way in which food safety is overseen in the United States.


Learn more about Salmonella in chocolate and Cronobacter sakazakii in infant formula in TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, now available in digital, print and audiobook editions.

TAINTED formats 3
“Reads like a true crime novel” – Food Safety News