UPDATED: Wawona stone fruit recall spurred by Australian tests

07/21/2014 10:15:00 AM
Coral Beach

(UPDATED COVERAGE, July 22) As a recall of stone fruit from Wawona Packing Co. expanded to Canada, the California company responded to consumers’ questions, explaining that an Australian importer’s discovery of minute levels of listeria on three peaches spurred the international recall.

The Cutler, Calif.-based company recalled conventional and organic peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots July 19, according to a notice on the Food and Drug Administration website. The fruit was shipped from June 10 through July 12. Canada’s Food Inspection Agency posted its recall notice July 21.

No illnesses have been reported in relation to the recalled fruit.

“Because we do not know the locations of the companies that purchased the products from our direct customers, the company is issuing a nationwide recall,” according to the U.S. recall notice.

Wawona president Brent Smittcamp said July 21 it was still unclear how the listeria monocytogenes contamination may have occurred.

Retailers and wholesalers across Canada and the U.S. received the fruit, which was packed under a variety of brands, including Wawona’s Sweet 2 Eat and Harvest Sweet labels. Wawona spokeswoman Amy Philpott said the company was harvesting and shipping before the recall, but she wasn’t sure for how long.

Courtesy Wawona Packing Co.These Sweet 2 Eat brand peaches from Wawona Packing Co. are among the six weeks of stone fruit shipments the California company recalled because of possible listeria contamination.Some retailers, including Costco, Wegman’s and Dierberg’s issued their own recalls. Other retailers known to have received the fruit include Trader Joe’s, BJ’s and Sam’s Club. The fruit is packed in bags, boxes and clamshells, as well as bulk lots. Some of the fruit was exported.

“On July 10 an Australian importer notified Wawona Packing that it had detected within tolerance levels of listeria monocytogenes on three of (Wawona’s) peaches,” according to a statement from Wawona officials that quoted Australian food standards.

Australia, like many other countries, allows for low levels of listeria because levels of less than 100 colony forming units per gram of food “do not present a public risk,” Wawona officials said in the July 21 statement. The peaches that tested positive in Australia had less than 10 units per gram, according to the Wawona statement.

“Because the (FDA) has a zero-tolerance for listeria monocytogenes, upon being notified by Australia, Wawona Packing immediately retained a reputable, private laboratory to test both the Wawona Packing physical plant as well as product,” according to the company’s statement.

“While waiting for the confirmed test results, the compamy stopped production and performed extra cleaning and sanitization measures and conducted more tests. All test results taken after this process have been negative.”

Courtesy Wawona Packing Co.Several brands of conventional and organic stone fruit, including these organic Sweet 2 Eat peaches, are under recall by Wawona Packing Co. because of possible listeria contamination.The lab did find listeria on two peaches and one nectarine among the product Wawona had it check. However, when the lab tested other pieces of fruit from the same boxes, all of it was negative for listeria, according to the Wawona statement.

Wawona is maintaining its normal production levels by using outside facilities in the area, Smittcamp said.

The complete list of more than 900 block identification numbers included in the recall is attached to the recall notice.



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GUILLERMO VAZQUEZ    
APPLIED AND EXPERIMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY JACKSONVILLE FL  |  July, 22, 2014 at 07:35 PM

THE WAWONA PACKING FACILITY IS PERHAPS THE CLEANEST AND BEST KEPT PACKING HOUSE I HAVE EVER VISITED . I AM VERY SURPRISED THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS TOOK PLACE . THEY GO FAR AND ABOVE THE REQUIRED METHODS TO KEEP FRUIT SAFE . THEY PRECOOL EVERYTHING AND ACTUALLY PACK IN A REFRIDGERATED FACILITY . I AM GUESSING THERE PROBLEMS ARE COMING FROM THE CROP ITSELF AND OR THE BINS THEY ARE TRANSPORTED IN .

Carol Duvall    
Loomis CA  |  July, 25, 2014 at 01:26 PM

I contracted Listeria from eating nectarines from the Raley's store in Loomis Ca I keep reading that there are no reported cases. That is not true. When I approached Raley's they said that did not have any fruit that was affected. I was very sick from seven days and I am still on antibiotics.

Rudolph Verdun    
Flint, Michigan  |  July, 26, 2014 at 11:23 AM

It takes from 2 weeks to 2 months for the illness to incubate. I would think back in time to trace the infection.

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