Massive Recall for Listeria Tainted Meat

Gourmet Boutique of Queens, New York is recalling about 286,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef, pork, and poultry products that may be contaminated with <"">listeria, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said this weekend.  The recall is a Class I alert, which carries the highest priority and is only issued when there is a “reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”  The Gourmet Boutique recall affects products sent to supermarkets and food stores nationwide and was the second such action in two months for the company.

The company recalled nearly three-dozen products, including fresh foods sold under the names Gourmet Boutique Curry Chicken Salad, Gourmet Boutique Turkey Club Twister, and Jan’s Buffalo Bob tortilla wrap sandwiches.  Frozen products include Archer Farms mini beef, pulled-pork, and chicken burritos.  Salad products possibly containing contaminated meat were recalled and produced between April 19 and 24; frozen products were produced between October 23 and April 23.  Many of the recalled fresh products bore May 2 or 3 “sell by” or “best before” dates.

In March, Gourmet Boutique recalled nearly 7,000 pounds of products sent to stores in 10 states over another possible listeria contamination.  The USDA said Gourmet Boutique issued that voluntary recall when food inspectors in Florida discovered listeria in a sample of its products.

In a recorded message for consumers, the company said it made a number of changes at the plant to prevent a recurrence of such problems.  “We are confident of the safety and quality of our products, which will continue to be validated through our ongoing sampling practice as part of our food safety programs,” the message said.

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning generated by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and is dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, those with chronic medical conditions, people with HIV, or those who are undergoing chemotherapy.  Most experience only mild flu like symptoms—fever, muscle aches, nausea, or diarrhea.  In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions.  In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.  Listeria lives in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food and can easily contaminate dairy and beef products; listeria thrives in cold environments.

This year, listeria has been the focus of a number of outbreaks, including three cases in North Carolina linked to soft cheeses and an outbreak at Massachusetts’ Whittier Farms dairy where four people died and more were sickened.  In Washington, the Ca Rem #1 Ice Cream, SeaTac recalled coconut-flavored popsicles for listeria contamination; the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) alerted the public to avoid consuming smoked pork and beef bratwurst produced by J&B Meats; Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, pulled 2,184 pounds of frozen entrees for possible contamination; and Stop and Shop recalled four types of prepared chicken.  Raw milk from Piney Ridge dairy farm and Clark and Elaine Duncan’s farm was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in Pennsylvania.  Most recently, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a warning about soy sprouts infected with listeria that were sold under the Chang Farms label.

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