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Pomegranate Kernels Recalled in Connection with Townsend Farms Hep A Outbreak

Scenic Fruit Company, based in Oregon, has voluntarily recalled 5,091 cases (61,092 8-oz. bags) of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels due to potential contamination of hepatitis A.

No illnesses have been connected to the Woodstock brand pomegranate kernels, but they were imported from Turkey and may be associated with the imported pomegranate kernels implicated in the ongoing Townsend Farms frozen berry hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened at least 122 people in eight states.

The products are sold in 8-oz. resealable plastic pouches with UPC Cod 0 42563 01628 9. Further coding information is on the back portion of the pouches below the zip-lock seal. The following lots are subject to recall:

  • C 0129 (A,B, or C) 035 with a best by date of 02/04/2015
  • C 0388 (A,B, or C) 087 with a best by date of 03/28/2015
  • C 0490 (A,B, or C) 109 with a best by date of 04/19/2015

The products were shipped between February 2013 through May 2013 to UNFI distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington State. UNFI distribution centers may have further distributed products to retail stores in other states.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection generally appear within 14 to 50 days of exposure and include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice and dark urine.

Those who receive a vaccination within two weeks of exposure may prevent illness, and anyone who has already received a hepatitis A vaccination in the past is not at risk of infection.

Food Safety News

Beef Producer Announces Own Recall in Connection to Rancho Feeding Corp

LeftCoast GrassFed is recalling all its beef processed in 2013, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s investigation into Rancho Feeding Corporation – the facility that processes many of the company’s cattle.

Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, CA, recently recalled approximately 8,742,700 pounds of beef because it processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection.

LeftCoast GrassFed said it had contracted with Rancho to process cattle “on a handful of days” in the summer and fall of 2013. “While we have been provided no evidence that our product has been compromised and there have been no reported illnesses from the consumption of our product, the safety and health of our customers is our utmost concern,” read a statement on the company’s website.

“We are sorry for this inconvenience and saddened by the waste of millions of pounds of meat, some of which, like ours, was raised with meticulous care and attention to the health and well-being of the animals that produced it.”

LeftCoast GrassFed is asking customers how purchased the recalled product to return it for a full refund.

Food Safety News

FDA Update: Nearly 600 Dogs Have Died, Thousands Sickened in Connection With Chinese Jerky Treats

Approximately 580 dogs have died and 3,600 have been sickened in a mysterious connection with consuming Chinese jerky treats, according to a new update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The problems date back as far as 2007, when FDA first began receiving a higher volume of reports of dogs exhibiting symptoms such as decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. The apparent commonality was a diet including various brand-name jerky treats, all of which were manufactured in China.

Food Safety News reported on the issue in March 2012, speaking with several dog owners who said they lost their dogs to medical complications from days to years after they began eating the treats. The treats are commonly sold as “jerky tenders” or “jerky strips” and are primarily made with chicken, although combinations may also include duck, sweet potato, and dried fruit.

FDA has conducted more than 1,200 tests on various brand-name treats in an attempt to discover some type of common contamination, but those tests have not revealed any clear cause of the illnesses. The agency sent inspectors to China last year to investigate several jerky treat facilities in person.

Those tests included checking for a number of microbial contaminants, antibiotics, metals and pesticides. Some tests even examined DNA and nutritional composition. But nothing has yet stuck out to investigators as a likely cause.

“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a news release. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”

FDA is now asking pet owners and veterinarians to assist in the investigation by reporting any complaints linked to pet food.

In an open letter to veterinarians, the agency has requested samples and information regarding potential illnesses related to the treats be submitted to FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a network of diagnostic laboratories. The agency has also asked vets to distribute jerky treat fact sheets to pet owners and report any observations of pet illnesses related to jerky treats.

In some cases, reports have said dogs fell ill within hours of eating the treats. Other customers have said their dogs have eaten the treats for years without any ill effects.

In severe cases, dogs have suffered kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome. A smaller number of cases involved collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

Earlier this year, Purina and Milo’s Kitchen recalled several jerky treat brand names – including Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch – because they contained trace amount of antibiotics that are approved in China and Europe but not in the U.S.

FDA advises pet owners who observe symptoms after feeding jerky treats to dogs to stop serving the treats immediately, consider contacting a veterinarian, and saving the remaining treats and packaging for possible testing.

In July 2012, FDA released an unprecedented collection of data on the 285 tests it had conducted on jerky treats up to that time. In an interview with Food Safety News, author and microbiologist Phyllis Entis criticized the agency for what she viewed as a lack of a systematic approach to solving the problem, calling FDA’s efforts at the time “scattered” and saying that the agency was not investing sufficient resources into the investigation.

“To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings,” the latest FDA update read. “The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.”

Food Safety News