You may want to think twice about those grab-and-go-food items.
Millions of pounds of ready-to-eat salads and premade food items including entrees, burritos, wraps and pizzas at several big name retailers such as Harris Teeter, Kroger, Whole Foods, 7-Eleven, Trader Joe's and Walmart have been recalled due to the potential risk of listeria and salmonella contamination.
The recalls stem from those issued by a dozen food manufacturers including Bakkavor Foods, Envolve Foods and Ruiz Food Products. The food makers notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture about products they shipped that could include ingredients such as corn, diced onions and other vegetables possibly tainted with bacteria – all provided from a single company, McCain Foods, the USDA says.
The initial recalls, announced by the USDA on Oct. 17, involved relatively small quantities, ranging from 217 pounds to 940 pounds of salads. Among those products recalled last week were Whole Foods' santa fe style salad with chicken, sold at stores in California; Trader Joe's labeled BBQ flavored chicken salad, sold in several states; and Walmart's marketside fiesta salad with steak, sold in some of its stores.
But some of the latest recalls involve far larger quantities of ingredients including 795,261 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products such as Harris Teeter Deli-Bakery brand bacon, egg and cheese burritos, and chicken sausage, egg white and cheese breakfast burritos.
Bakkavor Foods, which makes products for Harris Teeter and Trader Joe's, has production facilities in Carson, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Jessup, Pennsylvania. The products recalled could contain an onion ingredient supplied by McCain Foods that may be contaminated with salmonella and listeria monocytogenes, according to the USDA.
"These recalls demonstrate just how complex and interconnected our food system is today. When you buy something from the store, it’s possible the company that produced it was three companies ago," said Will Wallace, senior food policy analyst for Consumers Union. "This is a big deal. It could impact tens of thousands of people, if not more."
Distributed nationwide and produced between Sept. 27, 2017, and Oct. 15, 2018, most of Bakkavor's products for Harris Teeter have use by dates of Oct. 24 and Oct. 25, according to the USDA. A 16-ounce Harris Teeter Deli-Bakery brand BBQ style chicken artisan pizza has use by dates from Jan. 7, 2019, to April 11, 2019.
Bakkavor also recalled Trader Joe's carnitas with salsa verde burritos over the same concerns. Those products had use by dates through Oct. 24.
As of now, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of any of the recalled products, according to McCain Foods and the USDA.
"McCain Foods recently identified a potential health risk related to its fire roasted, caramelized or sautéed frozen vegetable and fruit products produced at its Colton (California) facility," McCain Foods said in a statement to USA TODAY on Friday when contacted about an initial five voluntary recalls involving potentially tainted corn and a sixth for possibly tainted caramelized mushrooms and fire-roasted tomatoes used in products sold at Hy-Vee. The company, which has offices in Illinois and is headquartered in Canada, said "as a result, we have made the decision to voluntarily recall all products produced at this facility."
Other products involved in the nationwide recall:
Simple Truth and Cadence Gourmet entrees
Envolve Foods of Corona, California, told the USDA it was recalling about 292,764 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and beef products including 22-ounce bags of Simple Truth Chicken Bibimbap, Thai Style Green Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala. Some of the products had use by/sell by dates through April 12, 2019. The Cadence Gourmet-branded Steak Fajitas, Tuscan Tomato Basil Chicken & Sausage and Rustic Toasted Tomato Basil Chicken & Vegetables also had expiration dates into 2019.
The products were sold in more than two dozen states at stores including Fred Meyer, Kroger and Ralphs. For complete lists, check the USDA's current recalls site at www.fsis.usda.gov.
The snacks sold nationwide at 7-Eleven stores were recalled after Ruiz Food Products of Denison, Texas, recalled about 2.5 million pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry taquitos for possible risk of salmonella and listeria, the USDA says. The recall involved Beef & Taco Cheese Taquitos, Buffalo Style Cooked Glazed Chicken Taquitos and Chipotle Chicken taquitos. All of the products, made between July 1 and Oct. 10, have been taken off the market, Ruiz Food says. The company learned about the problem Oct. 16 when it was notified diced onions used in the making of their beef and cheese taquitos was being recalled by their supplier due to bacteria risks.
7-Eleven had already recalled two different sizes (9.6-ounce and 11.2-ounce) of its 7-Eleven Bistro Southwest Style Salad With Bacon, produced on Oct. 13 by Prime Deli Corp., of Lewisville, Texas, also made with potentially tainted corn from McCain Foods. The salads, with a best by date of Oct. 16, were shipped to stores in Texas. The retailer learned about the problem Oct. 14, the USDA said.
Jenny Craig chicken wraps
SK Food Group, with locations in Groveport, Ohio, and Reno, Nevada, recalled about 174,207 pounds of Jenny Craig Chicken Wrap with BBQ Sauce, produced from Oct. 15, 2017, to Oct. 15, 2018, because they contained vegetables that might be contaminated with bacteria. The frozen, fully-cooked wraps were shipped directly to consumers through catalog sales in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Fresh Garden salads
Caito Foods of Indianapolis recalled about 1,532 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salads and food bowls made with corn that could be contaminated. Recalls included 11.5-ounce and 8.75-ounce packages of Fresh Garden Highway Santa Fe Style with Chicken salads with best if sold by dates of Oct. 21. Among retailers that its various salads were shipped to included Walgreens in Illinois and Target stores in Illinois and Minnesota.
Buddy’s Kitchen products
Buddy's Kitchen of Burnsville, Minnesota, told the USDA it recalled about 212,746 pounds of ready-to-eat pork and chicken products because they could contain vegetables at risk for salmonella and listeria contamination. The company said it contacted institutions that had been shipped bulk cases of foods such as omelets with potatoes and sausage, produced between Oct. 19, 2017, and Oct. 9, 2018. Its customers included locations in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and New Jersey.
An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year in the U.S., and about 260 die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the U.S. each year, the CDC estimates. Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours.
Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a health care provider.
Overall, the recall involved more than two dozen retail chains and 13 food companies supplied by McCain Foods.
"This goes all over the country," Consumers Union's Wallace said. "Salmonella and listeria can really cause a lot of harm to people, especially to the elderly, the very young and those who are sick."
Consumers should visit the recall sections of the Food & Drug Administration website and the USDA website and check the complete list of products recalled, he said. "And then, check your kitchen to make sure if you have any of these foods you throw them out and not eat them."