retail news in context, analysis with attitude

A listeria outbreak "has been linked to foods packaged by a processing plant in Washington State," the New York Times reports, leading to "a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names." Indeed, a spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that the extent of the recall "reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness ... and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have 'trickled down' into other products."

The plant, CRF Frozen Foods, has recalled more than 350 SKUs that were sold in all 50 states and Canada, under brand names that include Earth’s Pride, Signature Kitchens and Trader Joe’s. The recall includes all frozen products processed or processed at the plant since May 1, 2014.

The Times notes that while CRF has closed the plant in question and a public relations executive representing the company says that it is trying to pinpoint the source of the contamination, food safety inspectors have found "chipped and cracked pieces of plastic on parts of equipment that came into contact with onions, among other violations."
KC's View:
One of the things that is interesting about this recall is that regulators apparently are concerned that even though many of the products recalled have passed their expiration dates, customers may not pay attention to these dates because the food is frozen and they are under the misimpression that the dates don't matter. This comes just a few days after legislation was introduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives that would make expiration date labeling more consistent and coherent. Maybe they need to add "more visible and insistent" to the description.

When I read stories like these, it reinforces how important the new Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) is; companies - and their senior executives - need to adhere to the rules ... keep detailed and accessible records ... and be held accountable when they don't measure up.