Sunday, September 30, 2012


Food contamination and food recalls often follow the same pattern in industrialized nations. They start small, with a "limited" recall, and then expand to become huge, and even nationwide recalls of different food products and brand name foods. From the first recall to the last linked one, the whole process can take weeks or even months.

That is what is happening with the ongoing peanut and other nut butter recalls in the U.S, and to a lesser extent, with the mango one.

The nut recall started with Trader Joe's recalling its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter made with sea salt, and Sunland, Inc. which made the product for TJ's, recalling its peanut and almond butter - 2 days later. Over a period of days, this recall has expanded to include other types of nut products made by Sunland, and, to include various retailers and other manufacturers of foods which used them - some of them small businesses. These are simply innocent victims.

This nut butter recall is still very much ongoing. There are now too many products to even list here (check the FDA site) - candies, chocolates, sandwiches, crackers, brownies, crunchies, ice-creams, and so on as well as a multitude of nut butters. Even top (that is, expensive, and supposedly "healthy") stores such as Whole Foods are involved (see Oct. 4 post)- as well as many others.

As for the Mexican Daniella Brand mango recall, this was first announced in the U.S. about a month ago. Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc, must have known then that many of its fresh-cut fruit packages contained the same mangoes, and it should recall them. But only now is it getting around to doing so. Their recall includes a long, long list of fresh-packaged fruit items of all kinds (in cups, bowls, packages) that were made with these possibly Salmonella-contaminated mangos. They were distributed to retail outlets such as Walmart and 7-Eleven. This huge corporation which can afford the cost of the recall better than some small family-run company, should know better - and have acted immediately.

As I've said before - don't eat any mango or nut butter products or restaurant foods for a while - no matter what brand name, until all this gets sorted out. (Oops...Did I really eat mango sorbet at that restaurant last night?)

To your good health,


Thursday, September 27, 2012


As expected, the U.S. recalls of snacks, candy and other foods that are made with Sunland Inc. (Salmonella contaminated) peanut butter are growing in number.

A couple of more recent ones:

Several Fresh & Easy nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut and tahini) marked with 'Best Before' dates from May 1, 2013 to September 24, 2013 are now on the recall list because of potential contamination with Salmonella bacteria.

Gretchen’s Shoebox Express in Seattle, Washington, has also initiated a recall of Evolution Fresh Brand Cinnamon Apple & Almond Butter Sandwiches and Almond Butter that contain Almond Butter associated with the Sunland, Inc. recall.

There will be more. You can bet on it.

My suggestion - especially to elderly people and parents of young children: for the next couple of weeks or so, pass on all processed products containing peanut or almond or any other nut butter. Of course, it may not have come from Sunland, but there is no way of knowing. Better to be safe.

To your good health,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Here we go again. Now the recalls of products made with Sunland peanut butter are starting. No surprise. It is amazing how many things we eat contain peanuts or peanut butter. Remember all those food items that were recalled when we had Salmonella-contaminated peanuts from PCA in Georgia in 2008-2009?

Here are a couple of early starters. More will come.

Falcon Trading Company, Inc./SunRidge Farms of Royal Oaks, California, is recalling some of its Sunridge Candies of various kinds - Energy Nuggets, Peanut Butter Power Chews, and Treasure Trove Snack Mix.

Chattanooga Bakery, Inc., maker of MoonPie® and LookOut!™ branded snacks, has also announced a limited recall of its Peanut Butter Crunch products with “Best By” dates of 02/26/13, 03/25/13, and 04/29/13.

By the way, Sunland Inc. has also expanded its own product recall for the second time. It now not only includes Almond Butter and Peanut Butter, but also its Cashew Butter, Tahini and Roasted Blanched Peanut Products. This is sounding more and more like a factory (equipment?) contamination. But what it will mean is still more spinoff recalls like the ones above.

Stay tuned.

Oh, and once again - avoid all foods containing peanut or almond butter for a while, especially for your children. (I purposely passed on Trader Joe's Crunchy Bars with peanut butter yesterday, and chose the honey ones instead...).

To your good health,



. I notice heavy traffic on my old blog post titled "Can Rice be Contaminated?" (April 10, 2011). No wonder, there has suddenly been a flurry of news reports on arsenic in rice.

It turns out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has known about this possible problem for decades, has suddenly decided to look into it a bit more. Consumer Reports has done its own testing and called for Federal standards for how much arsenic to allow in this popular food.

I wouldn't worry if you just eat rice or rice-based foods (such as rice cereals) once in a while. Certain ethnic groups who eat rice every day have more reason to be concerned. So do mothers of young children - and, in some cases, of older ones. My New York-based son told me a couple of days ago that for health and dietary reason he has started taking his own lunch to work every day instead of buying fattening fast food. That lunch reportedly consists of chicken breast, broccoli - and, yes, - of rice (which he believes to be best because he buys organic rice at Whole Foods). Oh..oh

So here's a bit more information on the issue than I provide in my earlier post (which also covered radiation in rice - an issue in Japan last year). But my book - The Safe Food Handbook (section on Grains, Legumes and Nuts) contains much more. This was a topic I really got into when I wrote it, and contacted leading researchers all over the world. Believe me, a lot of excellent work has been done on arsenic in rice for a long time.

You may not be able to avoid arsenic in rice completely (or, in your drinking water), but if you are a heavy rice eater, you can reduce your chances of getting too much of it by checking where the rice you buy has been grown. Rice from certain parts of the world - and certain parts of the U.S. - is likely to contain higher levels of arsenic than from other areas.

No, organic growing conditions do not guarantee that rice will be free of arsenic.

Oh, and unfortunately, studies show that brown rice - which has higher levels of bran and germ than white rice - is also likely to have higher levels of arsenic.

To your good health,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Like everyone else, I love to be right - yes, even when I predict bad news. Please don't take that to mean that I want more of the U.S. food supply to be unhealthy or people to become ill. But after following food recalls for years, you get a sense about these things.

So if you read my previous post, you will see that I expected an expansion of the ongoing Trader Joe's peanut butter recall - before any expansion was announced. And, yes, it has happened.

It turns out that the company that makes this product for TJ's is Sunland Inc., which, as I suspected, also make peanut - and almond - butter for other retailers. Now it has had to recall these as well. The recall covers multiple products manufactured between May 1, 2012 and September 24, 2012 because these may be contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria that are making people ill in many U.S. states. There is such a long list of the products, I suggest you check them at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recall site:

You may want to tell your friends and relatives - especially those with young children, or, who are elderly (the population groups most vulnerable to Salmonella illness) about this recall. I did a mini-check yesterday of people who shop at Trader Joe's and buy the recalled peanut butter. It is amazing how many people had not heard of the recall and had not checked their supply.

You may also want to alert anyone you know living overseas at U.S. army bases and diplomatic missions who have access to, and buy U.S. manufactured products. I remember during several past recalls I found that such people may be totally isolated from the recall information alert system - yes, in spite of the internet.

To your good health,

Monday, September 24, 2012


At present there are several widely distributed food products in the U.S. that are being recalled because of contamination with Salmonella bacteria. But Trader Joe's peanut butter recall (contaminated with Salmonella Bredeney) is getting more publicity than most. Why?

Well, for one thing, just about every American household buys peanut butter. The average American child will eat about fifteen hundred peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates from high school. And some of us adults like peanut butter too (one of my personal favorite sandwiches is peanut butter and banana on whole wheat).

And another reason for the concern could be that we remember huge Salmonella-related peanut butter recalls in past years where hundreds have become ill, and some people have died. There was that Peter Pan peanut butter recall in 2007 and another even bigger one in 2008-2009 with at least 714 people - and many dogs - ill in 46 states. This second one involved other peanut products as well, and was traced to the unethical Georgia-based peanut plant with the pompous name - Peanut Corporation of America.

So what about the Trader Joe's recall of Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter made with sea salt which was distributed to Trader Joe's stores nationwide? Well, the store downplayed any proven link to illnesses, but the Centers for Disease control have linked eating this product to 29 illnesses in 18 U.S. states, and 4 hospitalizations (no deaths as yet).

The real issue is what ingredient caused the contamination. If it was the peanuts - as is likely - other companies will be affected as well if they use the same peanuts for the processed foods. I guess we'll find out.

In the meantime - check your cupboard or refrigerator if you shop at Trader Joe's (that is where an opened jar should be kept). In the case of past outbreaks people were sometimes becoming ill as long as a year after the recall, because of the long shelf-life of the product - and not knowing about the recall.

To your good health,

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Cantaloupes are one of my favorite foods - not just for dessert, but as a side dish to fish and even with certain meat. I also like to think of cantaloupe as healthy - a good source of folate (an important B-vitamin micronutrient needed for healthy growth and cell maintenance), of carotenoids, vitamin C and of potassium. But almost every year in the U.S. we have dangerous bacteria turning up in cantaloupes and widespread cantaloupe recalls.

In mid August, Burch Farms recalled the cantaloupes and melons they had distributed because of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria being found. Now DFI Marketing Inc. of Fresno, California, is recalling their cantaloupe products, because testing turned up Salmonella bacteria.

And this is not some tiny recall. These DFI cantaloupes were distributed a week or more ago( primarily to retail customers) in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, in the U.S. and in Mexico. (Presumably they also were grown in Mexico).

The company assumes that most of them have been eaten by now. So, if you have been eating cantaloupe, and have been, or are ill with food poisoning symptoms, this may be the cause.

I was tempted to buy cantaloupe today, but I didn't. As usual, in cases like this, I draw a wide circle around a recalled food item, until we find out if the recall expands...

To your good health,


Monday, September 3, 2012


The mango recall is ongoing and expanding in the U.S. A number of fruit salad and other fresh fruit product manufacturers are recalling their products (see previous post). But this is a case where I think the mango distributor that started the process - Splendid Products - really deserves some praise.

Let me tell you why. First, they immediately recalled their Daniella brand mangoes, even though there was no proof at that point that their mangoes were the ones that were related to cases of Salmonellosis in Canada and the U.S. Secondly, the company publicized the recall on their website and provided useful information to consumers, including a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) list.

You would be surprised at how few companies acknowledge an ongoing recall publicly. And I have never seen one that goes out of its way to provide this much information. Take a look on:

I hope this company - established in 1976 - survives this recall and does not have to declare bankrupcy like so many others that have had similar experiences.

To your good health,


Saturday, September 1, 2012


It looks as though we are in the middle of mango recall week. These mangoes came from Mexico and are now just about all over the U.S. and Canada. Mexico is the world's fifth mango-producing country (4.2% of all mangoes), and a lot of them are exported to the U.S. and Canada. And yes, this isn't the first time they have been found to be contaminated.

The current recall involves Salmonella braenderup bacteria. Mangoes have been linked to a number of recent cases of salmonellosis in Canada, and may also be the cause of cases in California and perhaps other states.

The recalls started with produce distributor Splendid Products recalling certain lots of Daniella brand mangoes.(By the way, my compliments to Splendid Products, which has done about the most helpful recall I have ever seen - see next post). Some of the mangoes were sold as individual fruit with the sticker brand “Daniella” at various retail stores throughout the U.S. between July 12 and August 29, 2012. The stores include Costco, Save Mart Supermarkets, Food 4 Less, Ralph’s, Topco stores, El Super, Kroger, Giant-Eagle, Stop & Shop, Aldi, Ready-Pac Foods, and some Whole Foods stores. Other stores may also have sold the recalled product. Not all these retailers sold them in all their locations.

But then, as often happens, the mangoes also underwent further processing. For instance, Spokane Produce, Inc., is recalling a small lot run of Pineapple/Mango Pico de Gallo because of having used them. Winn-Dixie has announced an immediate recall of select cut fruit produced by Renaissance Food Group which contained the mangoes. Pacific Coast Fruit Company, of Portland, Oregon has had to recall multiple types of fresh cut processed items based on the potential contamination of Salmonella Braenderup. I bet this isn't the end of the list either.

What I suggest - sad though it be - is that if you live in Canada or the U.S. you avoid all mangoes and mango-containing fresh fruit salads or cut up fruit for a while.

To your good health,


UPDATE: 9/2/2012. And yes, I was right. There have been several more recalls of fruit products using the Daniella mangoes, for instance, by F&S Produce company, Pacific Coast Fruit Company, and more...