UPDATED: Gills, retailers expand recall; listeria found at plant - The Packer

UPDATED: Gills, retailers expand recall; listeria found at plant

07/26/2012 10:12:00 AM
Coral Beach

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Aug. 1, 9:50 a.m.) One week into a 6,000-pound recall of chopped onions and celery, Gills Onions LLC expanded it in late July to include whole peeled onions and additional chopped onions and celery after tests at the company’s Oxnard, Calif., facility showed listeria present.

The processing plant has been closed down since July 17, with investigators looking for the cause of the listeria found in a random sample taken at retail by the Food and Drug Administration. That sample triggered the July 18 recall.

The plant will remain closed until the issue is resolved said Amy Philpott, Gills spokeswoman. Gills officials were not immediately available to provide information about the total volume of the expanded recall.

No illnesses have been linked to the original or expanded recall. None of the products in the expanded recall have tested positive for listeria, according to the FDA recall notice.

Retailers recall fresh products made with Gills Onions

Retailers began recalling fresh products made with Gills onions on July 27. No illnesses had been reported related to these additional products.

As of the July 31, the following retailers had issued these recalls:

  • Simmering Soup Inc., Atlanta, recalled Trader Joe’s brand salsas and balela;
  • Whole Foods Markets in Florida recalled about 35 fresh food products;
  • Cool Creations LLC, North Kansas City, Mo., recalled about 20 fresh food products;
  • Wegmans Food Markets Inc. recalled six fresh food products;
  • GH Foods CA LLC recalled almost 90 fresh food products under a variety of store and speciality brands, including Delish! Albertsons generic label, Garden highway, Marketside, Nartural Directions, Pacific Coast, Raley’s Safeway Farms, Safeway Cafe, Sprouts and Trader Joe’s;
  • Huxtable's Kitchen, recalled Trader Joe's brand roasted butternut squash, red quinoa and wheatberry salad;
  • Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC recalled Costa Fruit & Produce brand Calico Bean Salad from salad bars;
  • Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., recalled Spartan Fresh Selections three bean salad and 10-ounce broccoli stir fry products;and 
  • Publix Super Markets recalled custom sub sandwiches that contain onions;
  • Ken’s Foods Inc. recalled cole slaw sauce, baked bean sauce and three brands of tartar sauce; and
  • Garden Fresh Foods Inc. recalled ready-to-eat salads, slaw, salsa, bean and dip products.

Gills continues to operate another processing facility in a separate building from the plant that is temporarily closed, according to Philpott.

“They are running extra shifts, but orders are a bit behind,” Philpott said. “Gills is working with customers to arrange deliveries and meet orders.”

As of July 31, Philpott said the Gills processing facility remained closed while investigators still looked for the source of the contamination. The second facility continues to run extra shifts, but Philpott said gills is probably not meeting all of the demand for some retail and specialty product orders.

"Steve Gill has said it will take as long as it takes to resolve the problem," Philpott said.

Oxnard, Calif.-based Gillis voluntarily expanded the recall July 25 to include “all products processed in that facility and which may still be in the marketplace.”

“We’ve identified the problem, and we are taking aggressive actions to prevent this from happening again,” company president Steve Gill said in the recall notice.

The actions include forming a panel of food safety experts and microbiologists with expertise in listeria control; expanding required microbial surveillance and sanitation programs; and continued testing.

“They also have a team looking at possibly redesigning the facility,” Philpott said.”

Gillis shipped the newly recalled products directly to retailers in Canada and the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington.

The 10 Gills products recalled in the U.S. and three recalled in Canada are listed in the FDA recall notice.

The expanded recall product list includes diced, slivered and whole peeled onions and diced onion/celery mix with use-by dates on or before Aug. 3.

In late May Gills recalled 2,360 pounds of diced red onions in the U.S. and Canada after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency did a random sample and got a positive result for listeria.



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Nick Dulcich    
Delano Ca  |  July, 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM

It sure seems that processed foods and organicly grown food are respopnsible for 90 percent of the food safety issues that are happening lately. This makes sense as both of those catergories have grown in the last 5 years. I think it would be a good idea to give them a closer look, when they are having an audit. Perhaps they need a bi-monthly audit?

Ben Mark    
USA  |  July, 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Audits are worthless as we see again, even if the are bi-monthly. What is happen in the time between? Read on their website they do everything for food safety!?!. If this is true, why do they have contaminated food on the market? Why does a company with responsibility to their buyers and the consumers put out contaminated food at all, waiting if somebody get sick, dies or again as in this case an inspector in a retail store finds contaminated food? What about test and hold? Where is the traceup from the first day on to get everything off the market in hours?

John    
Florida  |  July, 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM

If you are going to go through the trouble of preparing a meal, why not simply cut your own fresh onions? It is really really really easy to slice and dice fruits and vegetables. It's so absurd to pay double/triple/quadruple the value of the product just to get it pre-cut. Lazy people are lazy.

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