Listeria-Tainted Onions Prompt More Recalls

Listeria-tainted onions have prompted more recalls, according to recall announcements made by both the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Although no illnesses have been reported in connection with these onions, as we’ve long explained, the Listeria pathogen is unique because it tends to thrive in colder temperatures, such as those found in refrigerated environments, which can extend the life of the produce. Listeria also has an unusually long incubation period—up to 70 days, according to experts—and well tolerates heat and dry temperatures, adding further challenges to the pathogen’s eradication and length to expected reporting time frames.

Listeria monocytogenes can lead to the listeriosis infection, a potentially fatal disorder that can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, especially in those with weakened immune systems, infants, and the elderly. Vulnerable populations, such as the developing fetus, can suffer serious central nervous system problems. The infection can also prompt premature births, or the death of the fetus via miscarriage and stillbirth; pregnant women are 20 times likelier to become infected. Listeriosis can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and to neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

In May, we wrote that the FDA announced a recall of 2,360 pounds, of diced red onions produced by Gills Onions, LLC of Oxnard, California over concerns the produce may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recall was expanded to include other Gills Onions earlier this month, creating wider spread recalls and involved distributors. The following additional recalls have been implemented because the foods involved were prepared using potentially contaminated Gills Onions. Consumers in possession of the recalled products should not consume the food and should destroy or discard the potentially contaminated products. Gills Onions can be reached, toll-free, at 1.800.348.2255, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). The firm’s web site, which should be accessed with updated recall information at www.gillsonions.com.

GH Foods CA, LLC: FDA Announced
GH Foods CA  has recalled various products containing yellow onions distributed to retail supermarkets and that were manufactured using onions recalled by Gills Onion. A list of the brands, products, and states involved can be accessed at the USDA FSIS web site. No other GH Foods CA products or code dates are involved and GH Foods has directly notified all customers who received the recalled product and requested removal from store shelves. GH Foods CA may be reached, toll-free, at 1.888.449.9386 24 hours daily, seven days a week.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.: FDA Announced
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is recalling the following prepared foods that contain chopped/diced white onions as an ingredient:

  • Available on the Self-Serve Fresh Foods, Veggie, or Homestyle Cold Bars: Uncooked chopped/diced white onions and Southwest Chilled Stew with Red and White Beans
  • Available packaged in the Cold Prepared Foods Case (ready to cook at home): Wegmans Veggie Pizza, large, 56-ounce, 16-inch, with UPC 23771701399 and medium, 28-ounce, 12-inch, with UPC 23771100999.
  • Available through special order only (deli catering): Wingless Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip, 32-ounce, with UPC 21783202199 and Crab/Pepper Jack Dip, 32-ounce with UPC 21784002199.

Affected products were sold only at the following Pennsylvania-based Wegmans store locations during the periods listed. No other Wegmans stores are affected by this recall: Downingtown (7/11-26/12), Collegeville, (7/18-26/12), and Allentown (7/19-26/12). Wegmans can be reached, toll-free, at 1.800.934.6267, ask for Consumer Affairs, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST).

LSG Sky Chefs (Orlando, Florida): USDA FSIS Announced
LSG Sky Chefs is recalling approximately 735 pounds of the following ready-to-eat chipotle chicken wrap products that contain recalled Gills Onions: 6.9-ounce packages of “RaceTrac Chipotle Chicken Wrap.” Each package has a “Sell Thru” date of July 27-31, 2012 and bears the establishment number “P-19682″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were produced at the company’s Orlando facility and are the only LSG Sky Chefs product affected by this recall. The products were produced from July 22-26, 2012, and shipped for distribution to retail establishments in Florida. The FSIS was alerted to the problem by LSG Sky Chefs, which informed the agency that diced onions subject to an FDA recall were contained in the pico de gallo used in the chicken wraps produced on the involved dates. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the company’s compliance office, Sherrie Scott, at 1.770.331.7600, ext. 1402. The FSIS recall is a Class I, which means this represents a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Huxtable’s Kitchen (Vernon, California): USDA FSIS Announced
Huxtable’s Kitchen is recalling approximately 5,610 pounds of barbeque chicken salads, which contain Gills diced onions. The 14.5-oz trays of “Trader Joe’s BBQ Chicken Salad” bear the establishment number “P-11079″ inside the USDA mark of inspection and each package bears a sticker with use-by dates through July 30, 2012. The product was produced July 20-24, 2012 and distributed to retail establishments in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, Southern Nevada, and Texas. This recall has been deemed a Class I by the FSIS and, when available, the retail distribution list will be posted on FSIS’ website. Huxtable’s Kitchen’s Director of Quality Assurance, Juan Castro, can be reached at 1.323.923.2885.

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