Expanded Recall Includes Food Products Distributed to Schools

A recall encompassing 10.5 million pounds of frozen food products includes some items that may have been served in schools, according to the manufacturer of the recalled products. Rich Products Corp., of Buffalo, N.Y., recalled all products produced at its Waycross, Ga., plant with “best by” dates of January 1, 2013 through September 29, 2014 due to possible contamination with Escherichia coli 0121 bacteria, the company announced April 4.

This expanded voluntary recall, following an initial recall on March 28 that was prompted by multiple reports of illness related to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 0121 (STEC 0121), was undertaken “based on an abundance of caution,” says Dwight Gram, Rich Products’ vice president for corporate communications. No illnesses have been reported in relation to the expanded recall, according to Gram.

The initial recall was prompted by reports of STEC 0121 infections in 27 people in 15 states, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement posted April 5. The outbreak strain of STEC 0121 was identified in two different Farm Rich brand frozen products collected from the homes of two ill persons, the CDC statement said. The April 5 report is the most recent related to the outbreak, a CDC spokesperson confirms.

A list of products in the expanded recall, including those regulated by both the FDA and the USDA, can be found on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website.

Among the products in the expanded recall, some 300,000 pounds may have ended up in school lunchrooms, the Associated Press reported April 8 (Gram confirms in a phone interview that the AP report was factual). The main items shipped to schools were labeled as pizza dippers and pizzatas, the AP report said.

“We’ve been working very closely with the FDA, the USDA, the CDC, and the scientific community to determine the possible source of contamination in our products,” Gram tells Food Quality. “The good news for school children is that properly heating food kills any E. coli bacteria present. School foodservice operators are trained professionals who properly prepare food for children every day without incident.”


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