Wednesday, September 25, 2013


This has not been a good month for Garden Fresh Foods, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This nice-sounding, family-owned company, has been forced to issue a huge and progressively expanding recall of a wide range of its ready-to-eat foods. They include potato salads, chicken salads, pasta salads, ham salads, salsa, slaw, dips and various spreads. The products were distributed in the following states: WI, MN, IA, IL, OH, IN, TX, FL, MA, MO, MI, PA, AZ, CA, and distributed to a large number of retail stores (including Target) and to food services.

The reason for this recall is a finding of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Yes, that is the bacterium that pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems need to avoid at all costs.

But it is not the first time Garden-Fresh has been involved in a big recall. Nor will it probably be the last. There was another similar recall at the end of July, 2012, also because of the same bacterium, with seven tons of salads recalled. Nor is it the only company making such convenience foods which has had such problems.

Ready-to-eat foods are particularly prone to this kind of contamination. They often contain a large number of ingredients, from a range of suppliers. Often such ingredients as onion, cilantro, or whatever, ready them in already chopped up form, having passed through various processing equipment. Back in 2012, the culprit ingredient was onions. Let's see what it is this time.

As for "garden fresh" - forget it. Often ready-to-eat foods sit around for weeks, giving bacteria a chance to grow and multiply. And yes, some of them can do it in the refrigerator - Listeria monocytogenes being one of these.

Bottom line - If you are pregnant or weak, elderly, have a weakened immune system because of illness, avoid all ready-to-eat foods - not just those of Garden-Fresh. Take a few minutes more, and make it yourself. Your health is worth the effort.

To your good health,


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