Aunt Jemima Frozen Products are Recalled due to Possible Listeria Contamination

More environmental Listeria testing is being conducted due to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), resulting in more recalls due to Listeria monocytogenes found in the environment, not necessarily in the product.

The FDA announced that Pinnacle Foods Inc. is voluntarily recalling a variety of flavors of Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes, Frozen Waffles & Frozen French Toast Slices,distributed nationally in the United States and one product distributed into Mexico. The recall is due to the potential of the products being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, as Listeria monocytogenes was found in the production plant environment.

Two additional products (Aunt Jemima French Toast & Sausage, and Hungry Man Selects Chicken & Waffles) are being recalled in conjunction with the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). These 2 products contain meat products.

Pinnacle Foods initiated the recall after testing detected the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the plant environment. Pinnacle announcement stated that “the products are being recalled as a precautionary measure given the health and safety of our consumers is our top priority”.

“No illnesses have been reported,” according to Pinnacle announcement. “All affected distributors and retail and food service customers are being notified and the affected products are being removed from store shelves.”

The announcement applies only to the Aunt Jemima frozen products listed in the announcement and does not include any Aunt Jemima dry mixes and syrups. All affected distributors and retail and food service customers are being notified and the affected products are being removed from store shelves.

In the CDC report for 2016 “Incidence and Trends of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food “ through the year there were only 127 confirmed cases of illness due to Listeria, with 123 hospitalizations, indicating that Listeriosis due to food consumption is rare. However the mortality rate of Listeriosis is high.

Since Listeria is ubiquitous in the environment in many cases it is difficult to attain zero tolerance, especially in the plant environment. Currently there is no international agreement on what numbers of Listeria monocytogenes in foods are acceptable  to protect the consumer. The FDA established a policy of zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes in RTE foods, and their production environment. In the EU, the rules state that Listeria monocytogenes cannot be present in a ready-to-eat product at levels above 100 cfu/g at the end of the shelf life, whereas in the US a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy does not permit any amount of Listeria to be present in ready-to-eat foods at any time.

Time will tell if the zero tolerance of Listeria monocytogenes in the environment is justified.

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