Hummus, Listeria, and the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) – What Happened?

Over 30,000 cases of Sabra Classic Hummus were recalled after a routine inspection at a Kroger’s grocery store in Michigan due to the possibility of Listeria contamination (as reported by Food Safety News).

Food beverage safetyAlthough no cases of illnesses were “officially” reported, the remarks following the online article contradict that position. Many people (allegedly) claimed they were very ill, and from additional batches or ‘best by’ dates than the lots which were recalled.

(Directly following the article is a comments string where you can read about other Listeria victims who cite more contaminated products ranging from Peter Pan peanut butter to fresh cantaloupe.)

The Sabra recall follows closely on the heels of the Blue Bell product recall, where the CDC attributed eight cases due to the consumption of Blue Bell ice cream and frozen snacks.

According to Laura Lorenzetti of Fortune Magazine*, “Listeria is one of the most dangerous food-borne illnesses, especially for older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. It sickens about 1,600 Americans a year, causing fever and muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. In 2012, 13% of patients sickened by listeria died, according to CDC statistics. That’s quite high when compared with a more common food-borne disease like salmonella, which kills less than 1% of infected patients.”

The author poses the proverbial question, “How did this happen?” One would expect that after President Obama passed the most aggressive food reform bill in 2011 – the FSMA – food-caused illnesses would decrease. Lorenzetti counters:

The constant lineup of recalls raises concerns that regulators at the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are slipping on their duties to American citizens. Part of that may be due to a shortage in funding for food safety: Following the enactment of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, one of the biggest reforms to food safety laws in more than 70 years, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the FDA would need $580 million to carry out the reforms over four years. Congress allotted less than half that amount, about $162 million, for a five-year period.

Beyond the medical liabilities and legal costs, food manufacturers can suffer from devastating PR fallouts. Compliance and safety intelligence is obviously critical to an industry that has a major share in consumers’ consciousness.

Food and beverage manufacturers and distributors can look to Sage for resources and timely solutions. Sage recently launched an online ‘hub’ for the F + B industry, that provides advice for recalls, GMO requirements (labeling), and supply fluctuations. There is also a Sage ERP whitepaper that provides relevant information on “What food manufacturers need to know about the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Have more questions about Sage ERP X3 for food and beverage management? Ledgerwood Associates is an authorized Sage Business Partner. Email us or call 480.423.8300.

* Link to full article, “Listeria hysteria: Here’s what foods are affected, and why”