If you've done your grocery shopping at Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, Albertsons, or Safeway recently, you might want to double check what's in your fridge. A food manufacturer is recalling nearly 223,000 pounds of one of its products that was sold at these major supermarkets, because it may not be safe to eat, according to a recall announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read on to find out if you have the food at home and what the risk is, if so.
A new recall has been issued for ready-to-eat salad sold at Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, Albertsons, and Safeway.
On Friday, Sept. 24, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Ready Pac Foods, Inc. is recalling 222,915 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products because of the dressing. The affected salad products were sold under the manufacturer's name, Ready Pac, but also as store brand names at major grocery chains, including Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, Albertsons, and Safeway.
At Walmart, the salad affected by the recall was sold as Ready Pac Bistro Chef Salad (which has been pulled from the website, too). According to Walmart, it was sold at stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Meanwhile, at Aldi, the salad in question is labeled as Little Salad Bar Chef Salad, and at Kroger, the recall affects two salads, Kroger Brand Garden Salad with Chicken&Bacon and Kroger Brand Chef Salad Kit for One. Lastly, at Albertsons and Safeway, the ready-to-eat salad is named Signature Farms Café Bowl Chef Salad.
The salad dressing in some of these meals contains a common allergen that was not on the label.
The producer of the dressing in the salads, Litehouse Inc., notified Ready Pac Foods that a shipment of ranch dressing was misbranded and may actually be Caesar dressing, which contains anchovies that were not declared on the label. Because anchovies are an allergen that could put a consumer in danger, they must be listed on the label, hence the recall.
Fish is among the "big 8" most common allergens in the U.S., according to the U.S. Food&Drug Administration (FDA)—with the others being milk, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. The FDA's Food Allergen Label and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires manufacturers to disclose the presence or potential presence of any of these eight allergens in all of their packaged products, which Litehouse and therefore Real Pac Foods didn't do because of the mixup.
Luckily, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions linked to the recalled dressing in the salads. But the FSIS says, "Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider."
If you bought the salad in question recently, don't eat it, the USDA warns.
The stores with the affected salad products (listed in full here with establishment numbers, lot codes, and use-by dates) are now pulling them from shelves since the recall was announced. The recalled salads may include one of the following establishment numbers, which should be printed on the packaging next to the use-by date: "M-18502B", "P-18502B", "M-32081", or "P-32081".
"FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers' refrigerators. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase," the USDA officials warn.
If you have any questions about the recall, you can contact Mary Toscano, consumer affairs specialist at Ready Pac Foods, Inc. at 1-800-800-7822 or via email at email@example.com. You can also reach out to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or you can live chat the USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday. You can also send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov.
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In addition to the salad, Walmart, Aldi, and Kroger each had at least one food recall in the past month.
On top of the recall of the ready-to-eat salads, most of the stores affected have had to shelve other products in the past month or two. Most recently, Kroger announced on Sept. 16 that it was voluntarily recalling some of its name-brand bagged kale, due to possible Listeria.
Also on Sept. 16, Aldi announced it was voluntarily recalling certain lots of its Simply Nature Organic Poppy Seed Dressing "due to a processing issue that could allow for microbial growth," according to a recall notice posted by the FDA. About a month prior, on Aug. 9, Aldi also voluntarily recalled some packages of two Kirkwood brand products: Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken Cordon Bleu and Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken, Broccoli&Cheese, due to potential contamination with Salmonella.
And in mid-August, a recall notice on the FDA website announced that Jimmy's Cookies Marketside Chocolate Candy Cookie Cake, sold at Walmart locations all over the U.S., was being pulled due to undeclared peanuts.