A recall of one day’s production from a Gills Onions plant — that was expanded a week later to an “undeterminable” volume — caused a cascade effect as retailers and processors recalled more than 150 fresh products.
As of Aug. 2, fears of listeria contamination spurred five retail chains and seven fresh food producers to voluntarily recall products because they included recalled Gills onions.
No illnesses have been linked to any of the recalled produce or fresh products, according to multiple FDA recall notices at http://tinyurl.com/FDA-recalls.
Gills, Oxnard, Calif., initially recalled about 6,000 pounds of fresh-cut onions and celery July 18 after a random sample taken at retail by the Food and Drug Administration tested positive for listeria.
The company expanded the recall July 26 to include an unknown volume of whole onions and other chopped onions because investigators found listeria at one of Gills’ two Oxnard fresh-cut facilities. That facility has been closed since July 17 when FDA officials notified Gills of the positive test at retail, according to Gills spokeswoman Amy Philpott.
“Because the July 25 expanded recall does not include a beginning use-by-date, but rather included recalled products with use-by dates on or before Aug. 3, the number of recalled pounds is undeterminable,” according to a Gills onion statement.
“In the interest of public health, the company simply included all recalled products in the marketplace,” according to the release.
Philpott said the facility will remain closed until the listeria contamination problem is resolved. Gills continues to operate another processing facility in a separate building.
“They are running extra shifts, but orders are a bit behind,” Philpott said, adding that some retail and specialty product orders probably will not be met.
“Steve Gill has said it will take as long as it takes to resolve the problem.”
Gill has not been available for interviews, but he did include a statement in the recall notice: “We’ve identified the problem, and we are taking aggressive actions to prevent this from happening again.”
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.