Listeria found in retail sample of sprouts

05/10/2012 02:42:00 PM
Coral Beach

Cleveland Beansprouts Co., Cleveland, has recalled all of its alfalfa sprouts and spicy alfalfa sprouts because of possible listeria contamination.

No lot codes or any other identifier are on the sprouts, which were distributed in Ohio, according to a company news release posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

The notice is dated May 4, but it was not posted on the FDA recall website until May 8.

The positive listeria test was discovered in samples collected at retail by officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The sampling was done for for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program, according Erica Pitchford, director of communications.

Pitchford said May 10 the investigation was “wrapped up” but it wasn’t immediately known what volume of sprouts were distributed or what kind of packaging they were in.

“We went to the firm and took six samples and they all came back clean,” Pitchford said.

Judy Ho, owner of Cleveland Beansprouts, said the recall is taking its toll on her business. She has been growing and selling sprouts in the U.S. for 22 years. She said she only buys seed that has been sterilized and she tests spent water 48 hours into the sprouting process, as recommended by the federal government.

“I have no control over what happens after my sprouts leave my business,” Ho said May 10.

“It could happen in the truck, at the supermarket, who knows. Customers at supermarkets could open containers and put them back on the shelf.”

Ho said her sprouts are only distributed in and around the Cleveland area. She said they are distributed in clear, hard plastic containers, with her current weekly volume at 200-300 cases. Ho did not explain why the labels don’t include lot codes.

A similar sprout recall that lacked lot codes or other traceable marking, also for a positive listeria test, was issued April 27 and expanded April 30 by Henry’s Farm Inc., Woodford, Va.

Elaine Lidholm, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said May 10 she could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

FDA officials did not respond to requests for comments on possible disciplinary action against the two sprout companies in relation to the traceability issues.

No illnesses have been reported related to either recall.



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