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Widespread Sunflower Seed Recall Hits Multiple Retailers over Listeria Risk

Multiple retailers throughout the U.S. have initiated recalls for various sunflower products, due to a risk that they may cause listeria food poisoning

The FDA announced four separate sunflower recalls this week, after the supplier SunOpta, of Crookston, Minnesota, relayed to retailers that certain sunflower products could have been exposed to listeria contamination during processing. SunOpta recognized the potential contamination hazard during routine testing and initiated its own recall on May 4, 2016.

The recall impacts several major retailers including Kroger, Giant Eagle, Brown & Haley, Market District, Meijer’s, Wal-Mart, Jay–C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, King Soopers, City Market, Fry’s, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Smith’s and various others. Products from the retailers that include any and all sunflower kernel foods that were processed at SunOpta’s facility between the dates of February 1, 2016 and February 19, 2016 are included in the recall.

The Kroger sunflower seed recall affects Sunflower Salad Toppers, Sunflower Kernels, and Cranberry Delight Trail Mix products that were shipped across the nation to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Kroger announced that it has removed all of the potentially contaminated products from store shelves and has launched a recall notification system to alert customers.

The Treehouse Foods sunflower recall on May 3, includes several major brand name products that were distributed to for sale throughout the U.S. to Wal-Mart stores. The manufacturer released a full list of recall products that included various brand names such as Great Value, Natures Harvest, Meijer, and Southern Grove products. Many of the recalled products include protein bars or peanut bars that are processed with sunflower kernels.

A Giant Eagle sunflower recall was also announced on May 3, affecting sunflower seeds sold in bulk to four Pittsburgh and Market District stores in Waterworks, Township of Pine, Shadyside and South Hills Village Market District. The recalled sunflower products were distributed to the area in bulk bins between February 15, 2016 and May 3, 2016 and in pre-packaged containers with sell by dates of August 1, 2016 through August 19, 2016.

Listerosis is a foodborne illness that can cause serious health consequences and death, especially for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The infection is considered by the FDA as one of the more dangerous foodborne illnesses and frequently results in hospitalizations and carries a 25% fatality rate.

Symptoms of listeria infections may include nausea, muscle ache, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. In severe cases for the elderly and young children, the bacteria could spread through the bloodstream to the nervous system resulting in sometimes fatal infections. For pregnant women, listerosis can pose a risk of miscarriages, still births, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Customers are being asked to stop eating any potentially impacted sunflower products and to verify whether the products are included in any of the recalls before consuming. The FDA is urging customers err on the side of caution and discard the product if unsure if it is included in any of the recalls.

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