Recall: ‘New Era’ green beans

December 27, 2007

A bacterium that produces a life-threatening toxin may have contaminated canned cut green beans packed by New Era Canning Company. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about a potential Clostridium botulinum contamination of 171 cases of industrial sized cans of beans distributed to retailers, restaurants and food service institutions by Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The incubation period can be 2 hours to 2 weeks; in most cases the symptoms appear after 12 to 24 hours.

Linda Miller, sales representative for New Era Canning, said the potential contamination was discovered Thursday in results from an earlier FDA inspection. The test sample showed a presumptive positive result for Clostridium botulinum.

The green beans were distributed to food service customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia and sold through GFS Marketplace stores in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The problem was traced to a mechanical failure of one of the company’s cookers. Miller said some cans of the green beans were not being cooked enough. The company discovered the problem with the cooker on Aug. 9. The last day any of the product that could have come from the cooker was shipped was Sept. 12. The FDA took its sample on Nov. 30. The results came back on Thursday.

The company fixed the cooker and disposed of the 10 cans in the cooker at the time. Once the FDA inspection found the potential contamination, the company recalled the remainder of the specific lot that went through that cooker on Sept. 12.

The canned cut green beans that were part of the FDA warning feature a lot code of 19H7FL and UPC code of 93901 11873. The cans weigh 6 pounds, 5 ounces.

Customers who have the affected cans or have used the green beans in recipes are being advised to throw cans and food away immediately. Any food that may be contaminated should be disposed of carefully because even tiny amounts of the toxin ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the eye or a break in the skin can cause serious illness.

As part of its ongoing investigation, the FDA is working closely with Michigan Department of Agriculture officials and New Era Canning Company to identify all products that may be involved. Under its authority, the Michigan Department of Agriculture seized most canned products.

Anyone with questions can call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or New Era Canning at 1-800-282-9007 Ext. 111.


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