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Grocery sector sees spike in food recalls

Latest alert centers on salads, wraps potentially containing cyclospora

Amid a flurry of food safety warnings in recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a public health alert about beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps possibly contaminated with cyclospora.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said this week that the products, distributed by SpartanNash subsidiary Caito Foods, may still be in the refrigerators of consumers, putting them at risk because of the length of the cyclospora incubation period.

Indianapolis-based Caito and FSIS are working together to remove the products (left) from the market. The problem came to light when Caito was notified by Fresh Express, its lettuce supplier, that the chopped romaine used to manufacture some of their salads and wrap sandwiches was being recalled, the USDA reported.

More than two dozen products — sold at Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and Gordon Food Service stores — are affected by the alert. The items include such brands as Garden Highway, Boar’s Head, Delish, Good To Go! and Trader Joe’s.

The products subject to the alert were made between July 15 and 18, with the “Best By,” “Enjoy By,” “Best If Sold By” or “Sell By” dates ranging from July 18 to July 23. These items bear establishment number “EST. 39985” or “P-39985” inside or next to the USDA inspection mark.

Illnesses might not have been reported yet because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, the USDA noted. The agency said the incubation period for cyclospora, an intestinal parasite, ranges from two to 14 days, which would include the dates of July 25 to August 6, and infections could take up to six weeks.

This latest warning follows a cyclospora infection outbreak in May and that was linked to salads supplied by Fresh Express to McDonald's. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 286 people in 15 states have become sick, and there have been 11 hospitalizations and no deaths.

Packaged Food Recall

Also on Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, CDC and USDA said they and other partners were investigating possible salmonella contamination of a whey powder used in an array of popular food products that have been recalled. Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), the maker of the whey ingredient, voluntarily recalled its product on July 25, which in turn led manufacturers to issue recalls as a precaution.

Affected products include 14 SKUs of Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits products (made by Mondelēz); eight SKUs of swiss rolls under the brands Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion, H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square and Great Value plus Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread (made by Flowers Foods); 18 SKUs of Goldfish crackers (made by Pepperidge Farms); and the Hungry Man Chipotle BBQ Sauced Boneless Chicken Wyngz frozen dinner (made by Pinnacle Foods).

Other recent recalls include Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad, which the grocery chain recalled on July 17 because of possible salmonella contamination. The CDC said Wednesday that thus far 79 people from nine states have become ill, and 18 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Last week, the CDC said a salmonella outbreak connected to precut melon products supplied by Caito Foods has ended. The multistate recall, which began in early June and infected 77 people and hospitalized 36, involved precut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and mixed fruit items sold by such retailers as at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart and Whole Foods Market/Amazon.

And on June 14, Kellogg Co. recalled Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal due to potential salmonella contamination. One hundred cases of illness linked to the outbreak have been reported by 33 states, according to the CDC. Thirty people have been hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

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