Sunday, November 3, 2013


If you are a regular eater of ready-to-eat foods – salads, dips, spreads, cold cuts or whatever, you may want to think again, particularly if you are older or pregnant. The past 10 days of food recalls in the U.S. and Canada once again highlight how unsafe they can be.

The main risk with such foods is that nasty bacterium Listeria monocytogenes (although others do pop up as well). It is particularly tricky for two reasons. First, it can affect people so differently, and secondly, there is often a very long time between the time you eat that Listeria-contaminated salad or dip or whatever, and the time you begin to feel ill. I have written so much about this bacterium in previous posts, so won’t repeat it here.

Reser's Fine Foods of Beaverton, Oregon and Boston Salads and Prepared Foods of Boston, Massachusetts, are two of the several ready-to-eat food producers who have had to recently recall hundreds of their products. As often happens, the recalls kept expanding over the days, with more and more products suspected of being unsafe as investigators took a closer look.

And there is such a huge variety. Take the Reser’s recall. I went through their lists of ready-to-eat foods under many different brand names as well as their own and was amazed at the variety they offer.

Take just one of my local retailers – Safeway. It alone had some 30 different delicious-sounding salmon, crab and other dips and macaroni, potato, ham, chicken and other salads and slaws recalled.

So you thought some hard-working employee back there behind the Safeway Deli counter made those salads you just bought? Unfortunately not. We are living in the age of industrialized food production. They came from some huge food plant such as one of Reser’s which in turn, sources its ingredients from several suppliers, which may get theirs from still others. Who knows how many miles those prepared foods travelled, and how many days they took to reach your store.

Yes, these hundreds of recalled Reser’s products all over the U.S. and Canada apparently all came from their Topeka, Kansas salad manufacturing facility. How far is that from your home?

To your good health,


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