Jimmy Burch Sr. said Aug. 8 that officials at a North Carolina grocery store chain made the mistake.
“(They) prepared the statement for me to issue. I missed it (the athena reference) when I read it. I signed it and then the FDA and (the retailer) went back and forth,” the elder Burch said.
A spokeswoman for the retailer said she checked the paper trail and the chain did not prepare or send a recall notice to Burch. She said the supplier provided the grocery chain a preview copy of the recall notice.
Officials from the chain’s food safety team reviewed the notice, which specified athena cantaloupes. They made minor edits “from the consumer perspective” and sent the notice back to the supplier, the spokeswoman said Aug. 9.
FDA’s spokeswoman said she could not comment on specifics of how the Burch recall notice was developed. El-Hinnawy said the standard process for a voluntary recall is for FDA to “work with the recalling company to ensure that consumers have the information they need to make the right choices.”
Courtesy FDASome of the cantaloupes grown, shipped and recalled by Burch Farms had stickers from Cottle Strawberry Inc. Neither the Cottle company nor any of its fruit is not involved in the recall.Sticker complications
In the expanded recall notice, Burch warned retailers and consumers that some of its cantaloupes carried stickers from Cottle Strawberry Inc., Faison, N.C.
Cottle and its crops are not included in the recall. Jimmy Burch Jr. said the Burch packing shed ran out of their own stickers and had some Cottle stickers with the same Price Look-Up code, so they used them.
“We shouldn’t have done that, but we had an order we needed to get out. We won’t do that again,” Burch said of the Cottle stickers.
Jerry Buczek, chief operations officer at Cottle, confirmed Burch had Cottle’s permission to use the stickers. However, he stressed the two operations are not related in any way. They do not share packing facilities and do not have any joint growing operations.
“When the recall came out, we notified our retailers that none of our fruit was involved,” Buczek said. “As an extra precaution, we sampled our own crop and no positive results came back for any pathogens.”
“We’re running business as usual as much as we can,” Jimmy Burch Jr. said.
“At the point they notified us about the positive listeria test on the one melon, we had already shipped everything for the season.”
Burch Farms shipped the recalled cantaloupes to retailers in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. The initial recall notice July 28 said they were shipped to Maine and New York.