A false positive result for E. coli in random testing of salad at a Florida restaurant proved costly for Taylor Farms California Inc. after issuing and then cancelling a voluntary recall, company president Alec Leach said.
The recall began May 30 after the Food and Drug Administration informed Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms of a positive test result for E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken at a restaurant in Tampa, Fla.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the Rhode Island Health Laboratory did the tests.
The company asked customers to pull bagged foodservice salads with code dates STF137A3, STF137A4, STF138B3 and STF138B4.
The action turned out to be unnecessary.
Just before noon May 31, the FDA notified Taylor Farms that the result was actually a false positive, Leach said.
“We rescinded what was under way because there is no health risk,” he said May 31. “This (recall) was extensively communicated around the entire industry. It was an error by regulators’ testing.”
“Unfortunately it was a huge waste of time, effort and resources for many people and very confusing, to say the least,” Leach said. “We’re happy there was no health risk but very unhappy with what’s happened in the last 48 hours.”
Leach said the initial contact from the FDA surprised him.
“We took the appropriate action based on the FDA information, and now we are rescinding it,” he said. “Unfortunately significant damage has occurred to our business and our customers’ business due to the recall.”
Insurance that would cover losses because of food safety issues beyond a company’s control, such as the Taylor Farms recall, has been discussed recently. In early May, during United Fresh 2012, a panel stressed the need for the insurance, which does not currently exist.
The Taylor Farms recall reversal happened a week after another Taylor company, Taylor Farms Retail Inc., voluntarily recalled organic baby spinach after a random sample tested positive for salmonella.
No illnesses were reported in either recall.