Monday, November 28, 2011

SMOKED SALMON, CANNED PUMPKIN, CRANBERRIES AND OTHER FOOD SAFETY MYSTERIES

There are so many other things I should be doing, but my mailbox keeps being overloaded with news about safety issues in the U.S. food supply. Some of them are quite straightforward such as the usual Listeria-contaminated ready-to-eat foods. Others are more unusual, and some are downright mysterious.

Some recent ones I haven't caught up on, while I have been looking at Chinese food production and processing (see the previous post and the next one) are problems with smoked salmon, dried cranberries and canned pumpkin. It sounds rather like the makings of a holiday dinner - which it well could be.
The smoked salmon one is Listeria monocytogenes bacteria found in 4 ounce Transocean Wild Alaska Sockeye Smoked Salmon. Lot numbers 1280W & 1293W are being recalled. Oh-oh, I just bought some, so I had better go and check it as soon as I finish this.

Ocean Spray is recalling certain lots of its Original Flavor Craisins Dried Cranberries product in 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 48-ounce packages as well as bulk sweetened dried cranberries in 10-pound packages. This time very small hair-like metal fragments have been discovered. Metal or bits of plastic in processed products is not that unusual either. In fact, I found bits of plastic in my peanut butter a few weeks ago, and they were also in my fresh Dungeness crab meat a couple of months earlier. These bits of machinery or whatever can cause injury.

The canned pumpkin is the real mystery. The day before Thanksgiving, Giant Eagle, Inc. (a chain of supermarkets) announced that it was withdrawing two brands of canned pumpkin, both from Topco Associates, LLC ( a 75-year old company). It advised customers not to eat or use any Valu Time canned pumpkin purchased on or after August 30, 2011 or any Food Club canned pumpkin purchased on or after October 28, 2011. No reason was given except that these products did not "meet quality standards" which is all very vague. Apparently the investigation is ongoing.

And look at the dates - no doubt a lot of this pumpkin went into Thanksgiving dinners before people heard of the recall. I have been waiting for more news on this one, but haven't found anything yet to explain what really is involved. But I have a nasty feeling that when the news does come out, it won't be good. Tainted pumpkin pie? I suddenly feel ill...

To your good health,
TSF

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