Listeria in spinach prompts recalls

Listeria in organic spinach has prompted at least two companies to recall frozen meals.

listeria.amy's.kitchenAmy’s Kitchen, Inc. is voluntarily recalling approximately 73,897 cases of select code dates and manufacturing codes of products.

Gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free in Amy’s kitchen, but maybe Listeria.

And Wegmans Organic Food You Feel Good About Just Picked Spinach (frozen), 12oz after Twin City Foods, Inc (Wegmans’ supplier) said the spinach may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Feel-good spinach, now with Listeria.

Organic spinach dip recalled for Listeria in Calif.Organic spinach dip recalled for Listeria in Calif.

La Terra Fina is issuing a voluntary recall of its Organic Spinach Dip due to a potential health risk from Listeria exposure. The recall of product available in Bay Area Costco stores is a precaution. This is the only product that has been impacted and there have been no reports of illness.LTF157_Organic Spinach DIP 24OZ_V5

Product Name: La Terra Fina Organic Thick &

Creamy Spinach Dip & Spread,

24-ounce tub

UPC Code: 640410513730

Best-By Date: 3/24/2015, 4/01/2015, 4/14/2015, 4/20/2015

Salmonella in Trader Joe’s walnuts

Trader Joe’s Company is recalling Raw Walnuts because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

ucm438493The recalled Trader Joe’s Raw Walnuts were distributed to Trader Joe’s stores nationwide.

The products are packaged in clear plastic bags with the UPC Codes printed on the back. For the Raw California Walnut products, the “BEST BY” dates and Lot Numbers can be found printed on the back of the packages. For the Organic Raw Walnut products, the “BEST BY” dates can be found printed on the front of the packages.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by an outside company contracted by the FDA revealed the presence of Salmonella in certain packages of Trader Joe’s Raw Walnuts.

Out of an abundance of caution, Trader Joe’s removed all lots of these products from store shelves and will suspend sale of these products while the FDA and the manufacturers involved continue their investigation into the source of the problem.

To date, Trader Joe’s Company has not received any illness complaints related to these recalled products.

 

Salmonella risk in Frontier Co-op organic garlic powder

Frontier Co-op is voluntarily recalling several of its products manufactured with organic garlic powder that were sold under its Frontier and Simply Organic brands, and one product sold under the Whole Foods Market brand due to potential Salmonella contamination. To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.

frontier.garlic.powderThe product in question was raw material received by Frontier, which tested positive for Salmonella during a test by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Given that Salmonella may be present, Frontier is immediately initiating this recall.

Frontier Co-op is immediately initiating added precautions to the safety of the supply chain and instituting additional product testing, beyond FDA guidelines, to mitigate any future occurrence.

Go Salmonella: Go Raw brand Organic Spicy Seed Mix recalled

Ecomax Nutrition is recalling Go Raw brand Organic Spicy Seed Mix from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product.

go.raw.seed.salmThere have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. 

It’s what consumers do and why food safety should be marketed at retail: China goes organic amid food scandals

An organic food craze is emerging among China’s urbanites as food safety scandals spur the younger generation toward alternative ways to buy fresh produce and meat.

organic-manure1So far, organic foods’ penetration into China appears small, accounting for 1.01 percent of total food consumption, but that’s nearly triple 2007’s 0.36 percent, according to data from organic trade fair Biofach.

A series of high-profile food scandals over the past seven years has been a primary catalyst for growth in the organic food market. Biofach expects the segment’s share of China’s overall food market to hit 2 percent this year.

China was ranked as one of the world’s worst safety-violation offenders by American food consulting firm Food Sentry this year. In 2013, 3,000 pig carcasses were seen floating in Shanghai’s Huangpu river, one of the city’s key sources of drinking water. A few months later, reports that a Beijing crime ring was selling rat and fox meat as lamb sparked international outrage, resulting in the arrest of more than 900 people.

The trouble continued in 2014, with the Chinese affiliate of U.S. meat supplier OSI Group accused of using expired meat. OSI caters to major fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Yum Group’s KFC operating on the mainland. Wal-Mart was also dragged into the limelight this year following revelations that its donkey meat product contained fox meat. Most recently, Subway also came under scrutiny after Chinese media reported in late December that workers at a Beijing franchise changed expiry dates on meat and vegetables to extend their use.

The rise of organic food is also expected to draw support from government officials prioritizing nutrition and environment to spur domestic consumption in a country where focus has traditionally always been on industrial growth.

Food safety remains priority in age of organic food

Even in an age when the consumption of organic food is booming, strict global food safety standards are needed to protect the consumers, a leading expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

organic-manure1Mary Kenny, officer of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that the safety of all foodstuffs, including organic food, remains a global priority.

“It means that food should be safe and free from chemical and microbiological contaminants. And the nature of food supplies these days means that it’s an international issue,” she said.

organic-manure1

 

With this in mind, major food producers and exporters, including China, are constantly raising food safety standards, Kenny said, adding that, however, it is unclear to what extent the emergence of organic food is impacting food safety in China or elsewhere.

According to Kenny, even organic food may present certain safety risks. Therefore, it is vital to make sure that the right systems are in place and that food production and distribution is as risk-free as possible.

She noted for example that although organically sourced fruit and vegetables might have a lower risk of chemical contamination, the correct procedures to prevent microbiological contamination still have to be followed. As for meat and dairy products produced from organically-fed animals, they still carry the inherent risk of bacteria or parasites, which occur naturally in livestock.

“So we need to adopt the same food safety perspective to organic food that we adopt to other foods,” she said.

The conventional wisdom is that organic food is healthier and more eco-friendly than other food. However, Kenny said this does not mean that conventional foods should automatically be dismissed as having a higher risk.

“Conventional food production certainly uses more chemicals, such as pesticides,” she said. “But there are very strong and robust national and international systems to ensure the safe use of these chemicals and these are followed around the world.”

Organic don’t mean much, except profits for retailers

The $35 billion U.S. organic-food industry has nearly tripled in size in the past decade, challenging the Agriculture Department’s ability to monitor the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock.

organic-manure1There are currently 81 accredited “certifying agents,” or groups that stamp food as organic in the U.S. But of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report. The 23 firms didn’t properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for organic certification, among other things, the report said.

A separate Wall Street Journal investigation of USDA inspection records since 2005 found that 38 of the 81 certifying agents failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.

In that time, 40% of these 81 certifiers have been flagged by the USDA for conducting incomplete inspections; 16% of certifiers failed to cite organic farms’ potential use of banned pesticides and antibiotics; and 5% failed to prevent potential commingling of organic and nonorganic products, according to the Journal investigation.

 

Z Natural Foods recalls Lightly Roasted Organic Carob Powder due to possible Salmonella health risk

We all experiment in university. For me it was six months of vegetarianism, and I replaced chocolate with carob powder, as I was cooking everything from scratch.

salm.carobCarob tastes like dust.

Z Natural Foods of West Palm Beach, Florida is recalling 55 lbs of Lightly Roasted Organic Carob Powder because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The recalled Lightly Roasted Organic Carob Powder was available for sale directly through Z Natural Foods website at www.ZNaturalFoods.com. It was not available in retail stores.

The Lightly Roasted Organic Carob Powder was available in a 1 lb and 5 lb standup resealable foil pouches either bronze (1 lb) or silver in color (5 lb) and marked with Lot # ZNCARB39513 and a Best By Date of 12/5/2016 at the bottom of the label.

No illnesses have been reported to date and we are issuing this recall purely as a precautionary measure. The potential for contamination was noted after learning that another customer of our ingredient supplier received a positive test for Salmonella. While sampling conducted by the manufacturer did not indicate the presence of Salmonella, we are recalling this product out of an abundance of caution. No other Z Natural Foods products are affected.

US consumers are misled about organic safety

I normally stay away from the organic nonsense because it’s about lifestyle, not safety.

organic-manure2But John Block of The Des Moines Register writes that every day millions of shoppers are paying out as much as 50 or 100 percent more to buy organic foods for themselves and their families. I have friends who make these choices because they have no reason to question claims on labels, in advertising and on social media that organic foods are safer, healthier and more nutritious.

One thing they will not read on any label is a new finding from Academics Review, a group of scientists dedicated to testing popular claims against peer-reviewed science.

The scientists’ conclusion based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported recall information: Organic foods are four to eight times more likely to be recalled than conventional foods for safety issues like bacterial contamination. Nor will consumers see anywhere a reference to the body of peer-reviewed research finding that organic foods are no more nutritious than foods produced by conventional agriculture.

As Academics Review founder Bruce Chassy, a professor of food microbiology at the University of Illinois, recently reported to a professional trade association, not only is the federal government failing to require that the organic food industry state these risks to consumers. It also allows organic companies to make unfounded safety claims that, if they were made by any other industry, would attract the ire of federal regulators.

no_bullshitLacking such scrutiny, the organic industry appears to have adopted “black marketing” against conventionally grown foods as its core strategy. The Natural Marketing Institute admitted as much when it reported that “the safety message is a clear driver” of organic sales. A marketing executive for a major organic company was little blunter: “You can, and perhaps should, lead with fear as an industry.”

The industry does, in fact, lead with fear. The websites, social media, product packaging, marketing materials and annual reports of organic food companies are full of fear-based advertising against conventional farming. Even more hysterical claims about conventional foods are pushed in food scare campaigns run by NGOs funded by the organic foods industry, as well as by allied natural food and health companies.

In the midst of such claims, where do consumers turn for reliable information? They trust federal regulators to give them the straight scoop based on science. Yet even here, the federal government is passively complicit in allowing unscientific claims to mislead consumers. Exhibit A in federal complicity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified Organic label.

USDA’s research shows that more than 70 percent of consumers are likely to believe a food is safer, more nutritious or of higher quality if it bears the organic label. In fact, all the label signifies is that a given food has been grown, handled and processed without many of the modern techniques of conventional agriculture.

The label does not even mean that a certain food was grown without pesticides. Organic foods are routinely produced with certain kinds of “organic” pesticides. Meanwhile, organic recalls due to bacterial contamination are ballooning along with the expanding market for organic food.

In short, the federal government is strict about science, labeling and claims for all industries except one. The marketers of organic food are allowed to make scientifically false and misleading claims about the safety and wholesomeness of conventional food, while their products are increasingly likely to be recalled for safety reasons.

Federal agencies have a statutory responsibility to crack down on untruthful and misleading claims in food marketing. They also have a responsibility to warn consumers about real dangers.

The findings by Academics Review raise a number of questions federal regulators should have to answer.

– Will the USDA, FDA and Federal Trade Commission enforce existing rules against misleading advertising when marketers misuse the organic label to vilify competitors?

– Will regulators regard the sponsored attacks on conventional agriculture as advertising, subject to standards of truth?

– Will the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration investigate what is behind the frighteningly high recall record of organic food?

– And will the government perform more research on the safety of organic foods?

This is no longer a matter of who wins at the checkout counter. For many vulnerable people, it is a matter of safety. They just don’t know it yet.

JOHN R. BLOCK was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1981 to 1986. The lifelong farmer now is senior policy adviser to the law firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC in Washington, D.C. Contact: jblock@ofwlaw.com.