Food Safety

On November 19th, I was at a play area in the mall with my kids and a friend. We had just purchased lunch in the food court and as I was opening my Sabra Hummus Dipping Cup my friend suddenly stopped me. She informed me that she saw late last night they had issued a recall. She quickly pulled up the Food and Drug Administration website and found the exact product I was about to eat had been voluntarily recalled due to possible Listeria contamination. I took the opened Sabra Cup and the FDA notice to the manager who exchanged the hummus and quickly removed the remaining product from the shelf. Being pregnant, this was a huge scare as listeria can cause a miscarriage!

A few days later, my friend was at the airport walking by one of the shops and saw the same hummus cups on the shelf. She informed the store employee that they had recently been recalled. The employee disagreed with her and explained that they would have been informed had there been a recall. The recalled Sabra cups remained on the shelves for purchase to unsuspecting consumers. How scary! The store received information about a possible contaminated product and continued to sell them without doing any further investigating. Apparently, we all must be "informed consumers" when it comes to food safety.

In the case of the Sabra recall, it was a voluntary recall meaning the manufacturer discovered a potential problem with their products and informed the FDA. (1) It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to then inform all of the companies who purchased the product directly from them. (2)

The FDA lists all recalls in the FDA's Weekly Enforcement Report and will post updates to its website regularly (you can sign up for consumer updates HERE). If there is a serious hazard or widely distributed recalled product then the FDA will publicize a recall by use of the news media, press conferences and press releases. (2)

The FDA determines if the manufacturer has made "reasonable efforts" in either removing or correcting their product. Once the FDA reviews and evaluates that the company's corrective actions are appropriate, the recall is completed. The FDA then ensures that the product is destroyed or corrected and investigates how the product initially became contaminated. (2)

Sabra company initiated their recall as a precaution of discovering Listeria monocytogenes at the manufacturing facility. None of the finished product tested positive for the bacteria per the company's website. (3)

Listeria can cause illness in healthy adults and children but mainly affects pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with compromised immune systems. The most common symptoms are fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. (4)

Listeria monocytogenes

Following the FDA inspection, Sabra "implemented a thorough and extensive factory-wide cleaning and sanitation procedure (3)."

Please make sure the food you are eating is safe by joining the e-mail updates and paying close attention to news reports.

Sources

1. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049070.htm#AlertingthePublic

2. http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/Responding_Food_Recall_FNS_Final_May_30_2014.pdf

3. http://sabra.com/recall.html

4. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/tc/listeriosis-topic-overview