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Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition continued 2001

Chapter 4

Last Update: August 07, 2003


Pasta Recalled for Undeclared Eggs

On September 18, 2001, New World Pasta Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, announced a voluntarily recall in California, of 366 cases of Pasta Ribbons packaged for Albertson's private label. This product contained egg yolks that were not listed on the product packaging as an ingredient. The pasta was manufactured by New World Pasta for sale and distribution in Albertson's California stores only.

Upon notification, Albertson's acted to immediately remove all affected product from its California stores, however some customers could have purchased the product prior to the recall. The product affected was packaged in 16 ounce bags marked with UPC number 41163 47343 and code dates of 'Best By Mar 29 03' or 'Best By Apr 27 03'. Consumers with packages of Albertson's Pasta Ribbons marked with the affected UPC number and code date were urged to return them to Albertson's for a full refund. This recall did not include other pasta products by Albertson's that have product names, UPC numbers or code dates which differ from that described above. New World Pasta initiated the recall after discovering that product containing egg yolks was being sold in packaging that did not list egg yolks as an ingredient.

Food Storage

Warning Letter Issued for Storage Area in Bakery

FDA Inspection and Lab Analysis Confirm Rodent Infestation

The FDA's Chicago District Office sent a Warning Letter on February 6, 2001, to Jonal Bakery, d/b/a Baltic Bakery, in Chicago, Illinois. An FDA inspection in December of 2000 revealed recent rat activity throughout an area storing pre-packaged product. In addition, the inspection disclosed an on-going cockroach and fly activity in the processing area. FDA laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of rat fecal pellets that were collected from racks of unpackaged product. Other significant insanitary conditions included failure to clean equipment [product residue and/or mold residue and/or rust residue on a sour- mix blender, the water feeder for the tote, and the bake room blender].

In addition, employees were observed without total head hair restraints during processing, and wearing earrings and hand jewelry during processing. The firm has intensified its pest control activities and modified its processing operations.

Warehouse Closed for Insanitary Conditions

FDA Inspection Discloses Extensive Rodent, Bird, and Fly Infestation

The FDA's Baltimore District Office issued a Warning Letter to Happy Valley Food, Inc., Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2001. An FDA inspection of the firm on February 22 and 27, 2001, revealed numerous violations of food CGMPs, including a live rodent, live birds, rodent pellets, dead flies, rodent excreta droppings on the floors, food debris on the floors of coolers and freezers, standing water in several areas of the warehouse, and product storage against walls. Equipment that was holding in-process product was in a poor state of repair and contained encrusted material on product surfaces. The D.C. Health Department issued a closure notice to the firm, which remained in effect until the cited conditions were corrected.

Warning Letter Issued For Rodent and Bird Contamination

On March 13, 2001, the FDA's Chicago District Office sent a Warning Letter to the owner of K&W Trading of Chicago, Illinois. An FDA inspection in January/February 2001 documented numerous insanitary conditions, including widespread rodent and bird activity that involved contamination of rice, noodles and chili peppers. The firm initiated several corrections that included voluntary destruction of these products, as well as contracting with a new pest control service and sealing potential points of rodent and bird entry.

Firm Voluntarily Destroys Rodent-Defiled Product

An FDA inspection of Silver Ladle, Bridgeport, Connecticut, on October 23 - 30, 2000, disclosed an active rodent problem in the raw material storage area. The firm manufactures stuffed clams and uses, among other ingredients, bread crumbs and salt. Examination of these raw materials found them adulterated by rodents. Live rodents were observed on two separate days in the lot of bread crumbs.

The firm voluntarily destroyed all 80/50 lb. bags of bread crumbs, 3/20 lb. bags of egg noodles, and 9/25 lb. bags of salt. The firm also initiated a voluntary recall of finished product frozen stuffed clams manufactured using these raw materials on the initial day of the inspection and distributed to one account on 10/24. The returned product (64 cases 12/15 oz. trays) was voluntarily destroyed, and finished product remaining in the firm's freezer from the same lot (36 cases 12/11 oz. trays) was also destroyed.

FDA investigators witnessed the destructions. No production has taken place since the first day of the inspection and the firm is in the process of cleaning up and attempting to correct its rodent problem.

Seizure at Boyd Bluford, Norfolk, Virginia

Ongoing Rodent Infestation Results in Seizure at Distributor

On June 14, 2001, the FDA's Baltimore District Office accompanied U.S. Marshals Service in a seizure at Boyd-Bluford, Norfolk, Virginia. The firm is a distributor of candy, snack foods, and beverages to firms in the Tidewater, Virginia area. Two previous inspections revealed live mice and insects, rodent excreta, and rodent gnawed foods in the retail store and throughout the warehouse. As a result, a Warning Letter was sent to the firm on February 7, 2001.

During an FDA inspection on January 22 - 24, 2001, FDA investigators observed eight rodent gnawed wrappers, over 50 rodent excreta pellets on a pallet that contained cases of ice cream cones, 20 rodent excreta pellets on the floor. In addition, investigators observed insect activity in the form of numerous live/dead beatles, moths and/or larvae, insect webbing and insect excreta in or on various lots of food products such as candy, ice cream cones, and on storage shelves throughout the warehouse. The last inspection in May 2001, revealed an ongoing rodent and insect infestation.

On July 19, 2001, the owner of Boyd Bluford signed a consent decree concerning food in susceptible containers seized on June 14, 2001. The firm plans to recondition the articles.

Mass Seizure at Cash Grocery and Sales, Inc.

Judge Orders Destruction of Rodent-Defiled Foods in Seizure at Food Warehouse

On June 13 - 14, 2001, FDA's New Orleans District Office investigators accompanied a U.S. Marshal to assist in a mass seizure of food storage items at Cash Grocery and Sales, Inc., a food storage warehouse in Alexandria, Louisiana. During three previous inspections conducted between January and March 2001, FDA found widespread evidence of rodent infestation within the food storage warehouse.

Following each inspection the firm promised to eliminate the rodents and correct structural defects. The value of the seized goods was estimated at over $500,000. The seizure action was conducted under the order of the District Court Judge in the Western District of Louisiana. On October 1, 2001, the U.S. District Judge, Western District of Louisiana, ordered the destruction of the seized food items at Cash Grocery and Sales, Alexandria, Louisiana, after the CEO of Consolidated Companies, Inc., agreed to the Decree on October 1, 2001. The New Orleans District witnessed the destruction of the adulterated food.

Mass Seizure at Zarda King, Ltd.

Two Violative Inspections Result in Seizure of $17,000 Worth of Food Products at Rodent-Infested Warehouse

The FDA's Chicago District Office investigators accompanied a Deputy U.S. Marshal to the premises of Zarda King, Ltd., on May 22, 2001, where a seizure of approximately $17,000 worth of food products was conducted. The warehouse, located in Dolton, Illinois, had been the subject of a district inspection in March 2001, that revealed extensive rodent infestation throughout the facility. This action was the result of two violative district inspections of the firm, the most recent was conducted in February/March, 2001. Previously, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to the Owner of Zarda King on May 12, 2000, advising him of the extensive rodent and insect infestation in the warehouse.


FDA Issues Warning Regarding Contaminated Cantaloupe

FDA Warns of Food-Borne Illness Associated with Cantaloupe

On May 25, 2001, the FDA issue an advisory regarding an outbreak of food borne illness associated with cantaloupe from two Mexican companies, S.P.R. De R.I. Legumbrera San Luis and S.P.R. De R.I. Los Arroyos, and imported by Shipley Sales Service of Nogales, Arizona. This outbreak of Salmonella poona involved numerous illnesses and two deaths in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state.

Salmonella poona

Salmonella poona is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella poona often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurism), endocarditis and arthritis.1/

1/ FDA Talk Paper, May 25, 2001 (P-01-11)

The cantaloupe was sold in retail stores and restaurants and possibly served in health care facilities. Fresh cantaloupe has a shelf life of 14-18 days. As a result of this investigation, FDA has taken steps to prevent the importation of any other contaminated cantaloupe. FDA detained cantaloupe imported by Shipley Sales Service from S.P.R. De R.I. Legumbrera San Luis and S.P.R. De R.I. Los Arroyos.

FDA, States and other government agencies investigated this matter. Retailers, restaurants and food service operations were advised to determine if any of their existing stock of cantaloupe was purchased or sold under the Viva brand name, and if so, remove from sale. FDA warned that any cantaloupe bearing this brand name should not be consumed.

Although Viva was the only brand associated with this outbreak, FDA continued to recommend that consumers take the following steps with cantaloupe and other produce to reduce the risk of food borne illness. This supports advice given by the state of California.

Consumers were advised to adhere to the following procedures in handling fresh produce:

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice. After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. (Fresh whole produce such as bananas and potatoes do not need refrigeration.) Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Wash hands often. Hands should be washed with hot soapy water before and after handling fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood, as well as after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.
  • Wash surfaces often. Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops should be washed with hot soapy water and sanitized after coming in contact with fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Sanitize after use with a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of water.
  • Don't cross contaminate. Use clean cutting boards and utensils when handling Fresh produce. If possible, use one clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. During food preparation, wash cutting boards, utensils or dishes that have come into contact with fresh produce, raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Do not consume ice that has come in contact with fresh produce or other raw products. Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing perishable food outdoors, including cut fresh fruits and vegetables.

Recall of Cantaloupes Contaminated with Salmonella

Multi-State Outbreak of Salmonella Poona Results in Recall

FDA's Los Angeles District Office monitored the recall of cantaloupes by Shipley Sales Service of Nogales, Arizona, following a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Poona involving numerous illnesses and two deaths. Investigations by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state health departments and their resulting trace backs linked the illnesses and deaths to cantaloupes imported by Shipley from two Mexican companies. Shipley agreed to initiate a recall of the suspect cantaloupes shipped since March 1, 2001, and provided a list of their customers to FDA.

The FDA's Southwest Imports Division Nogales Resident Post witnessed the destruction of 4090 cartons of fresh cantaloupes valued at $38,531.00 at the local landfill. These were several of the last shipments imported by Shipley Sales, Nogales, Arizona.

Warning Letter Issued for Labeling Violations

On March 14, 2001, the FDA's Seattle District Office issued a Warning Letter to the General Manager of Fresh Products Northwest LLC., Medford, Oregon. The firm produces fresh pack apple and pear slices under the name “Crunch Pak Fresh Slices.” The Seattle District conducted an inspection at the firm located in Wenatchee, Washington. During the investigator collected a sample of Crunch pak Fresh Apple Slices.

FDA analysis of the product labels determined that, while the firm uses calcium ascorbate to prevent browning, the preservative was not listed on the label as an ingredient. The firm touts the additive, under the name of Natureseal, as a "processing aid." In addition, the firm failed to include a separate description of the function of calcium ascorbate as a preservative. The Warning Letter also cited the firm for not listing all ingredients on their labels and for the use of the term "fresh" on their chemically treated products.

Apricots with Herbicide Recalled

FDA Lab Analysis Discloses 3.7 ppm Herbicide - Tolerance level is 0.5 ppm

FDA's Los Angeles District Office collected sample 139914, Poppycots Apricots which tested positive for 3.7 ppm of Chlorothalonil (an agriculture herbicide). The tolerance level for Chlorothalonil is 0.5 ppm. The sample was a 24 pound case, lot # "810512 430A01", collected on 6/28/01 at Pan American Banana, 1601 E. Olympic Blvd., Bldg. #100, Suite 111, Los Angeles, California 90021. The shipper was King Canyon Corrin, LLC, Reedley, California 93654, the Grower was BR Tevelde Ranch, located at 13866 4th Street, Hanford, California. King Canyon agreed to recall the apricots. The lot reportedly consisted of 15 cases.

Destruction of Chilean Grapes

On May 18, 2001, the FDA's San Juan District Office witnessed the destruction of a detained shipment of Red Globe Grapes. The grapes were packed and shipped by Agrelqui, La Serena, Chile, and the destruction was due to mold contamination. The shipment consisted of 2,160 cases/8 kilograms each with a total wholesale value of $27,000.

FDA Issues Warning Regarding Contaminated Avocado Pulp

On February 9, 2001, FDA issued a warning to consumers in southern California not to consume avocado pulp products from two distributors, G Products and T & G Sales. The avocado pulp products had the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

G Products recalled three lots of its avocado products. FDA issued a Warning Letter to T & G Sales on February 1, 2001. The G Products bulk avocado pulp product was distributed in Southern California, primarily to small Mexican style fast food restaurants in Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties. T & G Sales bulk avocado pulp product was distributed in San Diego County, primarily to small Mexican style fast food restaurants from November 2000 through January 2001. These products, if frozen, have a shelf life of 3 to 4 months.

Listeria monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.1/

1/FDA News, February 9, 2001,(P01-06)

The G Products avocado pulp was packaged in bulk heat sealed, 6 pound, clear plastic bags. Product labeling identified the product as G Products Brand 100% Haas Avocado "Pulp" or "Chunky" style. The date codes were stamped on the label as "DEC 05 2000," "JAN 17 2001," and "JAN 30 2001."

The T & G Sales bulk avocado product was packaged in bulk heat sealed, 6 pound clear plastic bags and 25 pound plastic pails. The recall was the result of routine sampling by the FDA at the time of importation. FDA laboratory findings confirmed Listeria monocytogenes in lots from each importer, and the importer was instructed to hold the lots intact and not distribute them. However, these products were distributed without an FDA release. FDA recommended that restaurants that may have purchased avocado pulp products from these companies check their inventories and discontinue using any of these products listed above.

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