Protein Drinks Recalled for Botulism Risk

A variety of protein drinks have been recalled by Whitehall, Penn.-based Protica Inc. because of a botulism risk in an unusual case involving a commercial product.

Protica voluntarily recalled four products after finding, in a review of how the drinks were processed, that they had the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

The bacteria can cause life-threatening illness or death, and consumers were warned not to use the product even if it didn’t look or smell spoiled. Botulism is a fatal form of blood poisoning that can cause weakness, dizziness, double vision, and problems with speaking or swallowing. No problems had been confirmed by the time of the recall, according to a company release that was redistributed by the FDA.

The products recalled included the Protein to Go Milk Chocolate Shake under 19 lot numbers, manufactured between February and June of this year; Protein to Go French Vanilla Latte under 18 lot numbers, manufactured between September 2011 and June 2012; one lot number’s worth of Nutritional Resources Protein Wave gelatin cups, manufactured in May 2012; and one lot number’s worth of Body Choice Protein Shots, manufactured in December 2011.

Michael Doyle PhD, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin, said this type of problem can crop up from time to time but doesn’t happen too often.

“Periodically it happens where a canned product has been underprocessed, and it’s recalled because it wasn’t caught before it was released,” he said. “It may not reach the right temperature for the appropriate amount of time” to assure the bacteria are killed.

“Typically, the problem with botulism occurs with home-canned products, not commercial products,” he said. “We’ve had problems periodically, but it’s very infrequent.”

The process for preventing botulism risk is well settled and highly reproducible, he said.

“These processes for canned products have been worked out for many years, and they’re well known and well established, and if properly put into practice, it’s not a problem,” Dr. Doyle said.

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