Government officials say investigations are ongoing in Canada and the U.S. related to recalls of more than 400 products because of possible listeria monocytogenes contamination at a Reser’s Fine Foods Inc. facility in Topeka, Kan.
However, neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will release any details. Officials at the Beaverton, Ore.-based Reser’s have not responded to requests for comment. No illnesses have been linked to the recalled products.
The most recent information from the U.S. government was posted by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Nov. 4.
“The problem was discovered through microbiological testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A traceback investigation and follow-up testing by FDA at the facility determined there was potential cross-contamination of products with Listeria monocytogenes from product contact surfaces,” according to the FSIS.
Many of the products are dips and side dishes, but at least one fresh produce company has recalled bagged salad kits because dressing packets included with the kits are subject to the Reser’s recall.
Taylor Farms operations in Maryland, Tennessee, Texas, Florida and Illinois recalled more than 60 products, including broccoli slaw kits and broccoli crunch salad kits distributed to retailers and foodservice operators in 24 states. Taylor Farms officials did not respond to requests for comment.
A letter from Reser’s president Mark Reser on the company website states the Topeka salad facility was closed for cleaning.
“… on Oct. 25, production was temporarily suspended in our Topeka plant to fully dismantle our equipment for deep cleaning,” according to Reser’s letter.
“At the same time, we began extensive retraining of plant employees, contractors and other personnel. As a precautionary measure, we are further expanding the voluntary recall to include all products produced in the Topeka plant through Oct. 25.”
Reser’s packs a wide variety of deli meat and salad products under its own brand, as well as store brands including Kroger, Safeway, Target Canada, Jewel, Aldi, Sav-A-Lot, 7-Eleven, Dillons, King Sooper, and Wal-Mart. Foodservice companies including U.S. Foodservice and Sysco also have branded products under recall because of the Reser’s situation.
Canadian officials announced the first in the series of Reser’s recalls on Oct. 5 after they got a positive result for listeria monocytogenes from a random sample of a macaroni and cheese product.
Reser’s started recalling products in the U.S. Oct. 22, reporting 109,000 cases of refrigerated, ready-to-eat products were involved. It expanded the recall Oct. 26 and Nov. 3. Several retailers have initiated secondary recalls that cover products already on the Reser’s expanded recall notice.
As the U.S. recalls expanded, the Canadian government followed with expansions.
“This additional information was identified through a recall in the U.S.,” according to a Nov. 3 notice on the CFIA website. “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.”
Reser’s employees about 4,800 people in 18 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico, according to information on its website. Only the Topeka, Kan., facility is involved in the recalls.