Applesauce
Applesauce from Snokist is being investigated for being "repackaged" after going moldy. Image: Flickr / elisfanclub / CC-BY

In the summer of 2011, Washington state apple producer Snokist recalled thousands of cases of applesauce that had been sold to schools. Now, the FDA is investigating the plant’s practice of re-packaging moldy applesauce.

The original Snokist recall

A voluntary recall was issued on June 27, 2011, on 106-ounce food service cans of Snokist unsweetened applesauce. The recall was issued because of a reported seam problem with the cans, which would have allowed in bacteria and cause possible spoiling of the product. The Snokist recall affected 3,310 cases, with 6 cans per case. All the applesauce affected by the recall was distributed to schools and institutions. The recall was triggered when several schools reported students with upset stomachs after eating applesauce at school.

Moldy applesauce may have been repackaged

On October 20, the FDA sent a warning letter to the Snokist company, informing them that the company was being investigated for re-packaging moldy applesauce.

“Your firm reprocesses moldy applesauce product … using a method that is not effective against all toxic metabolites … Several food-borne molds may be hazardous to human health.”

This investigation has been, at least partially, triggered by the fact that Snokist did not appropriately address concerns the FDA laid out in their June inspection. There have been at least 13 previous instances where Snokist took moldy apples or applesauce and re-canned them to be sold, according to company paperwork.

Sterilization procedures not effective

Snokist officials have responded to questions about this recall asked by a few news agencies. The company admits that they “rework” moldy food for use in future packaged goods.

“If rework occurs, our thermal process is more than adequate to render the product commercially sterile,” Tina Moss, a company spokeswoman said to MSNBC.

The company tests for one microbe that is often found in rotting fruit. There are several different toxins that can happen in applesauce, and the FDA is not confident that the microbes can be destroyed by the heat treatment. Food for sale can be “reconditioned” within FDA rules, but must be completely sterile by the time it is sold.

Sources:

MSNBC: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/04/8636308-fda-moldy-applesauce-repackaged-by-school-lunch-supplier
Total Recall Info: http://www.totalrecallinfo.com/freerecalls.php?id=24971
Yakima Herald: http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2011/07/1/thousands-of-snokist-applesauce-cases-recalled

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