October 2009

Plum Organics ™ announced today that it is taking the precautionary measure of voluntarily recalling one particular batch of its 4.22 oz. Apple & Carrot Portable Pouch baby food with the best by date May 21, 2010 and marked with the following universal product code (UPC) #890180001221 located on the bottom of the package. These pouches are sold individually at Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us locations nationally.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with this product and no other Plum Organics products are affected. As a further precaution, samples from every Plum Organics product manufactured before and after this batch were tested and found to be within quality standards.

The recall was undertaken as a precaution due to the risk of potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Consumers should not use these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the possible health risk. Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans include general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

TGF Production LLC s recalling Herring Salted because the product was found to be uneviscerated.  The recalled Herring Salted was distributed nationwide in 1.3kg ( 2.86lb) round plastic containers with the code numbers 24.08.09 and 13.07.09. The Herring Salted is a product of Russia.

The Herring Salted was sampled by a New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspector during a routine inspection. Subsequent analysis of the product by New York State Food Laboratory personnel confirmed that the Herring Salted was not properly eviscerated prior to processing.

The sale of uneviscerated fish is prohibited under the New York State Agriculture and Markets regulations because Clostridium botulinum spores are more likely to be concentrated in the viscera than any other portion of the fish. Uneviscerated fish have been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning.  This product may be contaminated with Clostridium Botulinum spores, which can cause Botulism, a serious and potentially fatal food-borne illness. Symptoms of botulism include blurred or double vision, general weakness, poor reflexes, difficulty in swallowing and respiratory paralysis.

On July 7, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) learned that two siblings in Texas were critically ill with botulism and that their illnesses were likely acquired by eating contaminated food. Four days later on July 11, public health officials in Indiana reported to the CDC that a married couple in Indiana were suspected of having foodborne botulism. On July 17, CDC staff provided information regarding the production-dates and times to the FDA. The evidence strongly suggested that brands of Castleberry’s hot dog chili sauce were the common source of the four ill persons with botulism. By August 24, eight cases of botulism had been reported to the CDC. In addition to the Indiana couple, the mother of the children in Texas had developed symptoms of botulism, which brought the total number of Castleberry-associated cases in Texas to three. There were also three unrelated residents of Ohio who had developed botulism consuming Castleberry’s hot dog chili sauce in the week before symptom onsets. Botulinum toxin was identified in leftover chili sauce collected from the refrigerator belonging to one of the Ohio cases.

On July 18 and 19, a team of federal investigators were sent to the firm’s warehouse. Samples of Castleberry’s Austex and Castleberry’s brand Hot Dog Chili Sauce with the “best by May 7, 2009” and “best by May 8, 2009” lot codes were collected and sent to FDA laboratories for testing. FDA testing of sample 428113, consisting of 17 swollen cans, found C. Botulinum toxin in 16 of the cans. This sample included the same time-stamp and lot code from the May 8, 2007 production as the can found in the Indiana home. FDA testing of sample 420352, consisting of six swollen cans, found C. Botulinum in four cans. FDA sample 420353 included one swollen can, and its contents tested positive for C. Botulinum toxin.

Federal investigators conducted extensive tests on Castleberry equipment. The findings are presented in an FDA report issued on August 10, 2007. Noted observations include:

1. The system, equipment, and procedures used for thermal processing of foods in hermetically sealed containers were not operated and administered in a manner that ensures commercial sterility is achieved.

2. Each retort did not have an accurate temperature records device.

3. Failure to supply a suitable water valve used for water cooling to prevent leakage of water into the retort during processing.

4. The condensate bleeder was not checked with sufficient frequency to ensure removal of condensate or equipped with an automatic alarm system for the continuous monitoring of condensate bleeder functioning.

5. Required information was not entered on designated forms at the time the observation was made by the retort or processing system operator or designated person.

6. Failure to maintain fixtures in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated.

7. Failure to properly adjust the temperature-recording device. The temperature recorded on the temperature-recording device chart was higher than the mercury-in-glass thermometer during processing.

The report ultimately placed blame on Castleberry management saying there was no commitment from employees in making the products and there was not adequate management oversight. As one Castleberry employee noted: “Two years ago the [implicated reports] were maintained very well, but they are maintained poorly now.” The FDA plainly agreed, citing Castleberry’s for the “failure to maintain fixtures in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated.” This is the story of one of those cases.