Tag Archives: recalls

Food Safety Technology Can Protect Businesses from Recalls and Other Risks

By Colin Rose, Patricia Baxter
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Recalls represent one of the largest threats to a food company’s profitability and reputation. In recent years, technology solutions such as cloud-based software have been introduced to better prepare and safeguard businesses.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 300 food products were recalled last year, representing a significant 31% increase compared with 2022. The reasons behind recalls vary and include food containing contaminated items such as metal or plastic, exposure to pathogens and undeclared allergens on product labels. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year, roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick from foodborne diseases. Recalls represent one of the largest threats to a food company’s profitability and reputation. In recent years, technology solutions such as cloud-based software have been introduced to better prepare and safeguard businesses.

Supply Chain Connectivity

Despite advances in technology, many food manufacturers and processors still rely on manual tools and management across their supply chains. Manual systems can result in major issues during a crisis, including errors in inputting or updating data and miscommunication, such as being unable to quickly reach multiple vendors and suppliers at a given time.

Proper and comprehensive supply chain management is critical to food safety. In the instance of a recall, businesses must be able to quickly activate their recall management plan, disseminating important information both up and down the supply chain while documenting to meet certification and regulatory requirements. It’s key that all suppliers – local, national and international – demonstrate that they are compliant with all relevant food and market regulations. Product source information must also be tracked and searchable in records.

Robust and proactive document control can help an organization avoid recalls by quickly identifying risky suppliers or non-compliant ingredients.

Innovative Solutions Support Recalls

Several new technologies are being employed to support greater traceability and transparency across the food supply chain. With cybersecurity attacks now being a risk that can result in product recalls, more companies are investing in information security solutions to further protect their data. Certifications to standards such as ISO/IEC 27001, which has requirements for establishing, managing and maintaining an information security management system help businesses to demonstrate that they follow an international standard for managing security controls. This can provide an added level of assurance that cybersecurity risks have been identified and safeguarded.

Some companies are now using RFID to tag and track food items. QR codes and bar codes can be scanned on easily accessible devices such as smartphones and tablets, providing instant access to records to ensure traceability.

Cloud-based software also allows companies to manage complex and critical data more confidently. NSF TraQtion® is a new software solution that directs suppliers to an online portal to upload documents, complete questionnaires and communicate. Beyond supplier data, cloud-based software can also be used for recipe management and storage, tracking complaints, label compliance and setting company-wide standards. By simplifying and digitizing data, documents and records collection, leaders can instantly access information during audits and assessments, allowing for quick delivery when program documentation is requested or required.

If not properly and swiftly handled, a recall or outbreak can cost a business tens of thousands of dollars or more. By using cloud-based technology to put an easily accessible and implementable risk management plan in place, businesses can be better prepared for a food safety incident. Overall, software can minimize back-and-forth messaging, urgent data requests, meetings and calls by digitizing and streamlining both communication and documentation.

How to Select the Right Tech Solutions

When preparing for a potential recall, it’s important to be proactive. Start with identifying the pain points in the organization’s risk management plan and then see if there are tools that can be used to strengthen the plan and address its weaknesses. While some tools may require greater investment, this can pay off in the long run when you consider how detrimental recalls can be.

As we look at recalls and technology solutions, we must acknowledge that the requirement for full compliance to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) 204 rule is January 20, 2026. For those applicable, technology will play a major role in the FDA’s recordkeeping requirements and 24-hour turnaround of an electronic, sortable spreadsheet for traceability of products. In most cases, with larger-scale operations, this can only happen with the utilization of new and emerging software.

The goal of technology implementation is to create a more sustainable food system. With earlier identification and traceability of adulterated products, the removal and retrieval process from commerce will be faster and, in turn, should result in a decrease of incidents reducing illness and potential deaths.

Digital solutions will also help to fill the gaps for root cause investigations, thus more efficiently allowing for enhanced preventative actions and training to avoid recurrence. While onboarding of new technology can sometimes be costly, over time, the ROI of reduced recalls and product losses can increase revenue gains and negate the initial investment.

Food is a global commodity, and advancing technology and innovations in system processes can help move the supply chain forward in delivering safe, quality consumable products around the world. Now is the time to lead the industry forward for a safer, more sustainable future for both companies and consumers. We must invest in technology solutions within our food supply chain to continue advancing human and planet health.

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FDA Releases 2022 Annual Report on Investigations of Foodborne Outbreaks

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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On January 8, the FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation (CORE) Network released its first annual report summarizing the investigations of foodborne outbreaks and adverse events in FDA-regulated human foods for the 2022 calendar year.

In 2022, CORE evaluated 65 incidents, responded to 28 and issued advisories for 11. These numbers show a slight increase from 2021 when 59 incidents were evaluated with 19 responses and 10 advisories. The investigations in 2022 included E. coli, Cronobacter, hepatitis A virus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella which were linked to a variety of products, including produce, dairy and fish.

CORE investigations also resulted in numerous public health actions, including recalls, public health advisories, Warning Letters, FDA prevention strategies, a country-wide Import Alert and a Consent Decree. Outbreak advisories were issued for:

  • E. coli O157:H7 linked to packaged salads
  • Cronobacter linked to infant formula
  • Salmonella Senftenberg linked to peanut butter
  • Hepatitis A Virus linked to strawberries
  • Unknown contaminant linked to French Lentil and Leek Crumbles
  • Listeria monocytogenes linked to ice cream
  • Listeria monocytogenes linked to Brie and Camembert soft cheese products
  • E. coli O121 linked to frozen falafel
  • Salmonella Litchfield linked to seafood
  • Listeria monocytogenes linked to enoki mushrooms
  • Salmonella Typhimurium linked to sprouts

The 2022 annual report highlights noteworthy outbreaks from 2022, including Listeria monocytogenes linked to enoki mushrooms, Salmonella linked to cantaloupe and Salmonella linked to peanut butter.

Read the full report here.

 

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Food Safety Culture Club

Making Recalls Faster and More Efficient

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall—it’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of CEOs, food safety professionals and the general public. At the 2023 Food Safety Consortium, Roger Hancock, CEO of Recall InfoLink, joined Matt Regusci and Francine Shaw, co-hosts of the “Don’t Eat Poop” podcast, to discuss the challenges in handling food recalls and the importance of taking steps now to make the recall process faster and more efficient.

Hancock launched Recall InfoLink, a supply chain process management system, after spending 15 years leading food safety and quality at Albertson’s, where he managed roughly 250 recalls per year. His goal was to improve how companies manage recalls, making the process easier and faster, and ensuring that the right message gets to the right people at the right time.

“Faster is better,” said Hancock. “For a CEO, the brand isn’t as exposed in the media, the cost will be fairly low and liability contained. For the consumer, faster means maybe I didn’t buy it because it was already pulled from the shelves or, if I bought it, I took it out of my pantry before I ate it.”

When recalls happen slowly or over time, the problem isn’t typically with individual companies and how they perform the recall. “The problem is between companies,” said Hancock. “The bigger the recall, the more companies that get involved in passing data from place to place, and that tends to slow things down. And you can imagine a game of telephone where the message consistency changes and problems start to escalate.”

He seeks to solve this problem by building what he calls a “recall-ready community.” “Our concept is if preparedness is done as a community—or as a supply chain—then those gaps can be identified ahead of time,” said Hancock. “So, when everybody’s hair is on fire and a recall is happening, they’re not having to solve problems that they’ve already identified and solved…Every recall is unexpected and unplanned, so to make them fast and easy requires practice and being ready.”

During the conversation, Hancock shared the most challenging recall he was involved in during his 30-year career. “It was the first and only mad cow disease (BSE) recall in the U.S.,” he said. On December 23, 2002, Albertson’s found out that a BSE-positive cow was in its supply chain. “I spent from December 23 to end of January documenting the recall. It was nightmare,” said Hancock. “There was a lot of concern/fear about mad cow disease at the time and there was a cow that had tested positive for BSE in our supply chain. There were no protocols for how to handle it. There were no regulations around how to handle it. So, it was very complex.”

Hancock did point out that, despite the high number of food recalls happening every year, very few pose a risk to human health. “Most recalls remove products that have a problem or defect that isn’t really going to hurt anyone, but for business or compliance reasons probably needs to get out of the supply chain. So only a fraction of recalls that happen actually pose a risk to people,” he said.

This raised the question of recall fatigue and whether businesses and consumers have become complacent. “Some of our clients choose to notify their customers out of courtesy that they didn’t buy the recalled product. And what we find is that too many of those courtesy notifications end up creating a habit of, ‘I don’t need to look at this.’ So, there is a risk there. And as I’m listening to all of the focus on consumer notification, I worry about that same risk. As we think about consumer notification and even streamlining business communication, it takes a savvy person to know how to do it correctly, so that you don’t have unintended consequences of either people ignoring the notification or of creating a panic.”

Listen to the full episode here and join us October 20-22 at the 2024 Food Safety Consortium in Washington, DC.:

 

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Highlights from the 2023 Food Safety Consortium

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Last week, hundreds of food safety professionals, members of the FDA and USDA, and leaders in academia, food safety testing and cybersecurity met in Parsippany, New Jersey, for the 2023 Food Safety Consortium.

Keynote speaker Sandra Eskin, Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA FSIS, and Erik Mettler, Assistant Commissioner for Partnerships and Policy in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, opened the Consortium to discuss their agencies’ priorities for 2024 and took part in a town hall Q&A with attendees.

Eskin and Mettler
Sandra Eskin and Erik Mettler

In April, the USDA FSIS declared salmonella an adulterant in raw breaded chicken products. The agency is now reviewing comments and finalizing a framework for other poultry products and examining how to substantiate claims, such as “Pasture Raised,” “Grass Fed” and “Raised without Antibiotics.” Cell-cultured meat is another key focus for FSIS, and it is requiring labeling of “Cell Cultivated” on the packaging of these products.

Mettler discussed the “mass reorganization” of the FDA that is currently underway following the 2022 Reagan Udall report, noting that Jim Jones, the new Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods will have full control of policy and resources of the Human Foods program. A key focus will be risk management prioritization. Expect to see full reorganization in late summer or early fall of 2024.

Reorganization of the FDA’s Human Foods program was a hot topic that was also discussed in depth during Modernizing the U.S. Food Safety System with panelists Stephen Ostroff, former FDA commission, Barbara Kowalcyk, faculty at Georgetown University, and Bill Marler, food safety attorney with Marler Clark.

Session Highlights

This year, attendees had the opportunity to take part in full-day pre-conference workshops, including Food Safety Auditor Training with Trish Wester, president of the Association for Food Safety Auditing Professionals, and the Food Safety Culture Design Workshop with Gina Nicholson Kramer, Associate Director of Partnerships, Policy, & Learning at The Ohio State University, and Richard Fleming and Austin Welch of Sage Media.

Sessions during the two-day Consortium covered everything from data analytics to risk mitigation, grassroots food safety culture and recall trends.

Steven Gendel
Steven Gendel

Attendees were able to take part in a Panel Discussion with the Producer and Food Safety Experts Behind “Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food” Documentary with producer Kristin Lazure and featured members of the film, including Dr. Darin Detwiler, CEO of Detwiler Consulting Group, and professor at Northeastern University, attorney Bill Marler, and Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.

Steven Gendel spoke on regulatory guidance, thresholds and best practices for Allergen Advisory Labeling, followed by Tracie Sheehan of Mérieux Nutrisciences who presented Protecting Allergic Consumers through Audited and Validated Allergen Control Plans.

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Food Safety and Cybersecurity panel discussion

Two sessions highlighted the growing threat of cyber attacks. Attendees gained valuable insights from Mark Wittrock, Assistant Director – Health, Food, and Agriculture Resilience Office of Health Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in Re-Imagining Food Protection as a National Security Issue – DHS Perspective, and Scott Algeier of the Food-Ag ISAC, who led a panel discussion on Food Safety and Cybersecurity.

“We’d like to thank all of our attendees, speakers and sponsors for helping make this year’s Food Safety Consortium a success. Through discussion, sharing of knowledge and building industry connections, the food industry will be better prepared to tackle the biggest challenges facing food safety, ensuring a safer and more resilient food supply for consumers,” said Rick Biros, founder and program director of the Consortium and publisher of Food Safety Tech. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to next year’s program in Washington, DC.”

Save the Date: The 2024 Food Safety Consortium will take place October 20-22 in Washington, DC. The call for abstracts is now open.

Reception at 2023 Consortium

About the Food Safety Consortium: ​Organized by Food Safety Tech, the Food Safety Consortium Conference, launched in 2012, is an educational and networking event that has food safety, food integrity and food defense as the foundation of its educational content. With a unique focus on science, technology, best practices and compliance, the “Consortium” features critical thinking topics that have been developed for both industry veterans and knowledgeable newcomers.

 

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FSIS Launches New Recall and Public Health Alert API Data Tool

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has launched a new feature on its website that enables software developers to access data on recalls and public health alerts through an application programming interface (API), allowing the public to access critical and timely public health information.

Currently, FSIS issues recall communications to alert consumers of potential food safety issues related to FSIS-regulated products. The API will act as a bridge, allowing software developers to leverage FSIS recall data to create new products for consumers or incorporate them into existing digital services and mobile apps. The agency’s recall and public health alert information continues to be publicly available through the FSIS website, Twitter, FoodSafety.gov, an RSS feed, and annual recall data summaries.

“Transparency, innovation, and collaboration are essential to public health,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban. “By opening critical data through public APIs, third-party software developers will be able to expand the reach of our information among American consumers far beyond what FSIS could do on its own.”

Since January 2020, FSIS has migrated several applications from on-premises legacy software to cloud systems, including the FSIS public website in 2021. The cloud-based infrastructure for the website laid the foundation to build out the recall API. In addition to recall data, FSIS is working on APIs for other critical datasets.

For more information on how to use the FSIS’ recall API and other developer resources, visit the API webpage.

 

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FDA Announces Public Meeting on Modernizing Food Recalls

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is hosting a free hybrid public meeting entitled “Modernizing Food and Drug Administration Recalls Listening Session” on September 29, 2023, from 9:00am-5:00pm ET.

Join the discussion on “Recalls Trends, Regulation and Lessons Learned,” a Panel Discussion with FDA at the Food Safety Consortium, October 16-18

The listening session will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share information and feedback about topics related to recall modernization, for FDA-regulated products. The FDA is inviting comments from all interested stakeholders and has identified the following examples of topic categories of the type of information the agency is interested in obtaining:

  • General recall preparations / contingency planning
  • Creating successful recall strategies, including methods to reach underserved communities
  • Initiating a recall
  • Strategies for public warning, including press releases, social media, and other communication tools
  • Increasing efficiency and effectiveness of recall information exchange
  • Ensuring effective recalls
  • Terminating a recall
  • Strategies for reducing recall recurrence for similar situations

The meeting will be held at the FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Bldg. 31, Rm. 1503A (the Great Room), Silver Spring, MD 20993. Virtual registration is also available.

Registration is required to attend in person or virtually.

 

2019 FSC Audience
From the Editor’s Desk

Earn Up to 26 CE credits at the 2023 Food Safety Consortium

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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2019 FSC Audience

Food safety and quality professionals attending the 2023 Food Safety Consortium can gain up to 20 NEHA-recognized continuing education (CE) credits, while taking advantage of two days of high-level panel discussions and professional networking, “boots on the ground” education on the mitigation, regulation and control of key Food Safety Hazards, and their choice from four pre-conference workshops.

The Consortium will take place October 16-18 at the Hilton Parsippany in Parsippany, New Jersey, and feature leading industry professionals as well as high-level members of the FDA and USDA. Session highlights include:

  • Anti-Food Fraud Tactics for the Entire Supply Chain
  • Regulatory Audits
  • Food Safety Culture: Creating a “Speak Up” Culture
  • The Rise of Previously Unforeseen Hazards
  • FSMA 204: The Final Rule – Looking Ahead
  • Audited and Validated Allergen Control Plans
  • Recall Trends and Predictions
  • And more

View the full agenda and speakers

This year’s Food Safety Consortium is co-located with the Food Defense Consortium and Cannabis Quality Conference. The Consortium’s two-day program is recognized by NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) for 12.0 Continuing Education (CE) Hours. If you participate in one of the Pre-Conference Workshops or Trainings and attend the conference (a total of three days), you can gain 20 NEHA CE Hours (or up to 26 with the auditor training program).

Pre-Conference Workshops (held on Monday, October 16) include:

Food Safety Culture Design Workshop, presented by the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention in collaboration with Sage Media, will guide food industry professionals through the necessary steps to create an actionable food safety culture strategy.

CP-FS Credential Review Course. The Certified Professional – Food Safety (CP-FS) credential is the gold standard for those working in retail food safety, including cannabis edibles. Earning your CP-FS demonstrates your commitment to the health and well-being of your customers and shows the public you take their safety seriously.

Interested in becoming a food safety auditor or building your auditing skills? View the complimentary webinar, “What Does it Take to Become a Food Safety Auditor?” to learn more about this program.

Food Safety Auditor Training. This four-part series is designed to provide the knowledge, behaviors and technical skills attributed to a competent food safety auditor. The series includes three virtual 2-hour presentations conducted by a live instructor. These sessions are recorded and available for additional self-paced study for less experienced participants, while experienced auditors can refresh their understanding of auditing fundamentals before advancing to the more complex skills and critical thinking behaviors needed to audit high risk products. The course culminates with a full day of in-person instruction (Monday, Oct. 16) on advanced topics such as potential conflicts of interest, enhanced conflict resolution techniques and providing tips in advanced written communication skills to support the delivery of comprehensive audit reports.

The Seed to Sale Safety Workshop. Led by four veterans of cannabis quality and safety, this pre-conference workshop offers participants an interactive and engaging opportunity to learn about the novel seed-to-sale safety considerations associated with cannabis edibles. Participants will achieve an understanding of cannabis hazard analysis, learn the principles of cannabis edible GMPs, apply food safety best practices, identify risks in marketing and labeling and apply the fundamentals of state and federal regulatory compliance.

Register now for the 2023 Food Safety Consortium

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FDA Warns Industry on Food Safety Risks of Transferring Genes for Proteins that are Food Allergens

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The FDA has issued a letter to developers and manufacturers of new plant varieties who intend to transfer genes for proteins that are food allergens (including allergens from foods identified as major food allergens) into new plant varieties used for food. The purpose of the letter is to remind them of the relevant legal requirements for these products, which may include adding a gene for an allergenic animal protein to a new plant variety to provide a non-animal source of the protein for use as an ingredient in another food.

While the agency noted that it is not aware of any foods currently in the U.S. market derived from these types of new plant varieties, it is aware of research and development in this area.

The FDA is asking developers to consider the food safety risks posed by such allergens and plan early in development to manage those risks, including the potential for recalls due to undeclared allergens.

“We are specifically reminding those developers who are now exploring development of these types of plant varieties of their responsibility for food safety. In particular, we are reminding them to consider the allergenicity issues related to their products, and how they would be stewarded from production to manufacturing to consumption so that they do not inadvertently or unexpectedly enter the food supply,” the FDA stated. “We are also reminding them that they need to be properly labeled when intentionally part of the food supply.”

To reduce risk to consumers as well as the risk of recalls, the FDA is encouraging developers of new plant varieties to consult with the agency through its voluntary premarket consultation program for foods from new plant varieties prior to marketing.

 

 

Food Safety Consortium 2023
From the Editor’s Desk

Call For Abstracts: 2023 Food Safety Consortium

Food Safety Consortium 2023

Are you ready to share your knowledge, experience or research with fellow food safety and quality assurance professionals? Food Safety Tech is requesting abstracts for the 11th Annual Food Safety Consortium, which will take place October 16-18, 2023, at the Hilton in Parsippany, New Jersey.

We are accepting abstracts for educational presentations, panel discussions and Posters for a new Poster Session. All abstracts, which are due by March 31, will be judged based on the educational value.

Submit abstracts here.

Presented by Food Safety Tech, the Food Safety Consortium is a business-to-business conference that brings together food safety and quality assurance professionals for education, networking and discussion geared toward solving the key challenges facing the food safety industry today.

In addition to two full days of high-level panel discussions, this year’s program will include a second Food Safety Hazards track. These “Boots on the Ground” sessions build on the success of Food Safety Tech’s virtual Food Safety Hazards program by providing two days of education on the detection, mitigation, control and regulation of key pathogen, pest, chemical and physical food hazards.

Call for Abstracts Now Open

Also new this year is a strategic co-location with the Cannabis Quality Conference, as well as several pre-conference workshops to be held on October 16, including:

  • Advanced Listeria Workshop
  • Food Safety Recalls Workshop
  • Food Safety Auditor Re-certification Training
  • Infused Products Workshop

Registration Opening Soon!

“We are bringing two great conferences together under one roof,” says Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing and director of the Food Safety Consortium. “The Food Safety Consortium will continue its strategic meeting of the minds format, but we are complementing that with the practical, boots-on-the-ground Food Safety Hazards track. Co-location with the CQC allows attendees to take advantage of additional education on product testing and quality assurance in the burgeoning cannabis market, as well as preconference workshops delving into infused product safety and compliance that will appeal to both food safety and cannabis professionals.”

For sponsorship and exhibitor inquiries, contact RJ Palermo, Director of Sales. Stay tuned for registration and early bird specials.

 

 

Peanut Butter

Candies, Protein Snacks and Ice Cream Among Latest Jif Peanut Butter-Related Recalls

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Peanut Butter

The FDA has posted an updated list of additional recalls related to the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Senftenberg infections linked to certain Jif brand peanut butter products produced at the J.M. Smucker Company facility in Lexington, Kentucky.

The recalls are being conducted by companies that have used the peanut butter as an ingredient in the manufacturing of a new product or in repackaging the product. The recalls include:

Deskins Candies of Bluefield, West Virginia, is recalling the following 16 oz. products: Deskins Candies Peanut Butter Fudge, Deskins Candies Peanut Butter No-Bake, Deskins Candies Peanut Butter Pinwheel, and Deskins Candies Chocolate No-Bake

F&S Produce Co. of Vineland, New Jersey is recalling a limited quantity of Fresh Garden Highway Protein Power Snacks

Taharka Brothers Ice Cream of Baltimore, Maryland is recalling its Peanut Butter Cup ice cream

J.M. Smucker Company has voluntarily recalled Jif brand peanut butter products that have the lot code numbers between 1274425 – 2140425, only if the first seven digits end with 425 (manufactured in Lexington, KY).

Additional information including advice for consumers, restaurants and retailers is available on the FDA Outbreak Investigation of Salmonella: Peanut Butter page.