By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands is advising wholesalers and retailers to pull cans of recalled Del Monte “fiesta corn” from their shelves, noting there is “no way” anything can be done to “make the product safe”.
Regarding the recent spate of food recalls, which in recent weeks have included romaine lettuce and turkey products, Dr Sands said consumers should be happy that “the system works” but added these issues are a “clarion call” to eat fresh, locally grown sources of food.
Super Value President Rupert Roberts has vowed that if the affected products are found in any of his stores, they will be pulled from shelves “immediately”.
The Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) released a statement on Thursday reporting that Del Monte Foods Inc has announced a limited recall of 64,242 cases of canned “fiesta corn” due to “under processing”. This type of corn is seasoned with red and green peppers.
“The under processing involves the sterilization process that, as a result may cause contamination due to the growth of pathogens (spoilage organisms), which if consumed, are potentially life-threatening,” the statement says.
“There have been no reports thus far of illnesses associated with this product and no other production codes of Del Monte canned products implicated in this recall.”
Dr Sands told The Tribune that one associated illness is botulism.
“Botulism is a disease caused by ingesting the toxin produced by clostridium botulinum.... found in canned foods that have suboptimal pasteurization,” he said. “The corn is a side issue... it is a processing problem.”
The Centre for Disease Control defines botulism as: “a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves”.
When asked if he would advise food stores or consumers to pull this item from its shelves, Dr Sands replied: “Yes. Certainly, you’re talking about specific batches of specific ‘fiesta’ corn from Del Monte.
“And Del Monte has identified the batches that are of concern, and it’s really a simple matter of the wholesaler or retailer looking to see whether any of the batches are simply a part of the recall and taking them off the shelf. Because there’s no way that you can do anything to make the product safe. And they have determined that this product was sent to the Bahamas.”
According to the BAHFSA statement, “the recalled Fiesta Corn canned product is the 15.25oz can (432g) with the UPC number 24000 02770 printed on the label and expiration (best-by) dates in August and September 2021 stamped on the bottom of the cans as follows: 1. August 14, 2021 2. August 15, 2021 3. August 16, 2021 4. Sept 3, 2021 5. Sept 4, 2021 6. Sept 5, 2021 7. Sept 6, 2021 8. Sept 22, 2021 9. Sept 23, 2021”.
“The Bahamas was one of the 12 international locations to which this product has been exported. Twenty-five US locations also received this product.
“We ask all wholesalers and retailers to remove this product from their shelves as it is NOT TO BE SOLD TO THE PUBLIC. Consumers who may have purchased this product are asked to discard it or return it with the receipt to the merchant for a refund.”
When asked about the recent wave of recalled food products, Dr Sands said consumers should be happy, but noted this is a “challenge of the commercial food business”.
“I think that they should be happy that the system works,” he said. “This is the benefit of secure source marketing that is able to track where things come from, it is what happens when you purchase from reliable manufacturers and distributors. Because once problems are identified, they can be recalled, hopefully before something serious happens.
“But it also speaks to the challenge of the commercial food business. This is a clarion call now for people to now look at fresh sources of food, preferably locally grown. I think that while it may not be as convenient, it certainly is likely to be healthier and safer.”
While Mr Roberts could not confirm if his stores carry this product, he said if found, it will be pulled.
“I don’t think we have any of this item,” he told The Tribune. “If we do, it wouldn’t be this batch. The only place we would get it would be the Associated Grocers. They were taken over by Super Value International.
“But we wouldn’t have any current stock that would have the problem. (Old stock) wouldn’t come into the recall. We’re going to make sure…we wouldn’t have anything in the recall. We haven’t ordered for a long time,” he continued, noting this is a more expensive and less popular brand.
When asked if the item will be pulled if found, Mr Roberts said: “Immediately. I don’t think we do, but it will be pulled immediately if somebody finds any inventory.”