A growing number of ready-to-eat salad products are being recalled nationwide due to concerns that they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, as retailers continue to discover that products contained items from Reser Fine Foods.
The FDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency have traced contaminated products through microbiological testing to a Reser’s factory in Topeka, Kansas, which has led to multiple distributor recalls of salad and deli items.
Additional follow up testing has indicated that the bacteria may have been transferred through cross contamination on particular surfaces during the manufacturing process, leading to recalls for over 450 potato, pasta, tuna and egg salad products sold under the Reser’s label, as well as ready-to-eat salads, slaws and dips sold by grocery stores and distributors. All of the affected products are believed to have expiration dates ranging between October 11 and February 6, 2014, with a plant identifier code of “20” next to the best by date.
The initial recall was announced on September 21, when Garden Fresh Foods recalled various ready-to-eat salad products after random sample testing indicated the presence of listeria. Following the Garden Fresh recall, further investigation by the FDA lead to additional products being added to the recall on September 29, due to possible contamination.
The recall has expanded to include 109,000 cases of refrigerated foods and roughly 22,800 pounds of chicken, ham, and beef products that were sold in the U.S. and Canada at various grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, Safeway, Target, and SYSCO and many others.
A list of affected products was issued by the FDA on October 26, but that list has expanded as even more Reser’s-related recalls were issued in the following days.
Reser’s Fine Foods operates multiple factories located across the United States, but representatives for the manufacturer announced that the Topeka, Kansas location is the only facility under investigation for contaminated surfaces.
Listeria infections may cause serious and potentially life-threatening complications, resulting in death in about 25% of all cases. For pregnant women, listeriosis illness may increase the risk of miscarriage or still births. Blood tests are usually required to diagnose the illness, which can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of listeriosis for healthy individuals may include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. If the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications.
Consumers have been advised to stop eating any potentially contaminated products and return all recalled foods back to the place of purchase for a full refund or discard it. Customers may also contact Reser’s Fine Foods Consumer Hotline at 1-888-257-7913 for questions.