Listeria concerns prompt expansive recalls

Listeria contamination has been confirmed at a melon packing facility in Faison, N.C. The finding spurred Burch Farms on Tuesday to expand an earlier recall to include all cantaloupe and honeydew melons shipped from the facility this season, according to The Packer, a produce industry trade publication.

That’s about 189,000 melons, The Packer reported, noting that the recall expansion came after the Food and Drug Administration revealed it had found “unsanitary conditions” at the Burch packing shed.

In a separate case, listeria contamination is suspected in apple slices provided to McDonald's and Burger King restaurants.  A voluntary recall because of the concern involves almost 300,000 cases and another 296,000 individual packages of fresh-cut fruit, vegetable and sandwich products.

Missa Bay LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ready Pac Foods Inc., Swedesboro, N.J., initiated the recall on Aug. 10 after equipment at its processing facility was found to be contaminated with listeria, The Packer reported.

McDonald’s and Burger King issued statements indicating both chains immediately removed the recalled products from their restaurants.

Most of the recalled products contain sliced or diced apples, according to the notice on the FDA website. They have use-by dates of July 8 through Aug. 20. Twenty-nine different products are included.

NPR’s The Salt blog pointed out that the scope of this recall — 38 states plus the District of Columbia — illustrates how dependent the U.S. food chain is on a handful of companies:  “According to Yahoo Finance, Ready Pac is one of just four top producers of popular ready-to-eat salads, fruits and vegetables. And they're sold everywhere from Costco to Wawa.”