Sunday, July 29, 2012


Yes, I said there would be more food recalls because of Listeria-contaminated chopped-up onions (see previous two posts and the next). And yes, I was right. The new product recalls include more problems for Trader Joe's, which has already had to recall its barbeque chicken salads because of these onions.

Now Simmering Soup, Inc., of Atlanta, GA is initiating a recall of Trader Joe’s brand of Salsa and Balela because the products contain these suspect onions. They were shipped between July 25 -26, 2012 to Trader Joe’s stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Southern region of Virginia.

This recall also gives us yet another example of how our industrialized food production system works. Some farmer (or farmers) obviously grew these onions. Then they were sent to Gills Onions, LLC, in California for processing, bagging and further distribution. In this case FreshPoint Atlanta, bought whole peeled onions from Gills. They then processed them into diced onions. These diced onions were then purchased by Simmering Soup Atlanta which made them into the Salsa and Balela products for sale at Trader Joe's stores in 6 states.

Are you sure you want to keep on eating those processed products?

To your good health,

TSF (off to drive past Trader Joe's to shop at the farmers' market)

UPDATE: An additional onion-linked recall has been announced for Trader Joe's stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington of Trader Joe's Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa and Wheatberry Salad. It was made by Huxtable's Kitchen.


Whole Foods Market - whose motto is "Selling the highest quality natural and organic products" - has now joined the Gills onion triggered food recalls. It is recalling certain fresh food items sold in the prepared foods departments, and one item sold in seafood departments, of its 17 Florida stores.

Prepared foods in other stores such as Trader Joe's and Wegmans have already been pulled from store shelves and destroyed. They all used recalled cut-up onions from Gills Onions, LLC, of California, which were later found to carry Listeria monocytogenes bacteria (see previous post and the next one). So you assumed that Whole Foods would chop its own nice whole locally-grown organic onions on the premises instead of using those same mass produced, already chopped up products in huge bags that travelled thousands of miles from California?

The Safe Food Handbook (now in its second edition) argues for eating whole foods and avoiding prepared foods - especially fresh ready-to-eat prepared foods. But it is not an argument for shopping at Whole Foods. In spite of its super-healthy image - and, in my opinion, a highly inflated stock price - it has sold more than its fair share of contaminated foods over the years. They run the gammut - cheeses, chocolate, tuna, produce, baked goods and more (see for example, my earlier post on "A Bad Year for Whole Foods").

To your good health,


Saturday, July 28, 2012


Mass produced food, can also create massive and widespread problems. This is particularly the case when an ingredient used by a number of food producers turns out to be contaminated. The currently ongoing recall of diced onions and foods made with those onions is a case in point.

It started with Gills Onions, of Oxnard, CA. The company's diced, slivered and whole peeled onions and diced onion/celery mix were found to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria (remember - this is the one that is so dangerous to pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system).

A number of other currently ongoing recalls have had to take place as a result. Enslin & Son Packing Company, a Hattiesburg, Miss. establishment, is recalling approximately 314 pounds of sausage products. Huxtable's Kitchen, a Vernon, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 5,610 pounds of barbeque chicken salads - sold at Trader Joe's (see photo). Some Wegmans Food Markets in Pennsylvania are recalling a number of prepared foods such as chilled stew with red and white beans, Wegmans Veggie Pizzas, Wingless Buffalo blue cheese dip and Crab-Pepper Jack (most sold and eaten by now) that were made with these onions. Cool Creations, LLC of North Kansas City, Missouri are recalling a long list of platters, and dips and bowls and medleys for the same reason.

Nor is this the end. There are bound to be more in the next few days, especially since the original onion recall has now been expanded to include other products.

My advice to anyone at high risk for Listeriosis: avoid prepared foods, at least for a couple of weeks, until all the contaminated food is recalled - that is, if it hasn't been already eaten.

To your good health,

Monday, July 23, 2012


Even the most careful food manufacturing practices can sometimes fail. This is particularly tragic when the food item involved is made for vulnerable babies. Wellements LLC has had to issue a recall of Baby Move™ Prune Concentrate liquid dietary supplement. Unfortunately, one of its ingredient suppliers informed them that the ingredient may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

And yes, they do use "Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP)." Wellments products are manufactured in a plant that is complaint with FDA's requirements for this label. Among other things, it checks all incoming raw materials "for identity." Presumably that means it makes sure that something labelled "prunes" are indeed prunes and not grapes or apples. And it does do bacterial testing on all finished products before they are released to the warehouse. Nevertheless, accidents can happen and "pure" isn't sometimes pure.

Mothers be careful!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Needles in turkey sandwiches served on four Delta Airlines flights! Yes, that is the latest food horror story to hit the news . All originated in Amsterdam and were prepared by the same catering company. Here's another reason for packing your own on-board lunch.

But that's not all the weird things turning up in food this week. Morgan Foods, Inc., of Austin, Indiana in the U.S. had to recall almost 100,000 pounds of corn chowder soup products because two consumers found pieces of a marker pen in their soup. The recalled soups were distributed to retailers in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Personally, I find the idea of chewing on marker pens a lot less scary than biting into a needle. But you certainly don't need this extra flavoring.

Such odd things turn up all the time (see my previous post on "foreign bodies" in food - 6/14/12). There are basically two ways they get there: by accident or because they were planted in the food. I would guess that the marker pen belonged to the first (accident) group. As for sewing needles? I bet they were put there on purpose in order to cause harm. No, not a nice thought.

To your good health,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Listeria in Fresh Cheese - Again

There is yet another recall of fresh cheese in the U.S. because of the usual reason - contamination by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. That's the same bacteria that is the cause of the current Dole bagged romaine lettuce recall. And, it's the bacteria that pregnant women have to make every effort to avoid.

The cheese was made by Mexicali Cheese Corp. located in Woodhaven, New York and is packaged in a rigid 14 oz. plastic tub with the plant number 36-0128 and a code of 071512. As often happens these days, the product was sold under a number of different names: Mexicali Queso Fresco Mexicano, Mexican Style Fresh Cheese; or Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese.

This is a special alert fOr consumers in the metropolitan New York area, including Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. As far as we know at present, it was not distributed anywhere else.

To your good health,