Gosia Wozniacka Associated Press A work crew harvests cantaloupes near Firebaugh this week. Hundreds of California farmworkers have lost jobs as fear over a Colorado listeria outbreak ripples across the nation.

Raley’s and other grocers issue recall on some summer fruits

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 - 9:49 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 - 11:08 am

A Central Valley packing company, which has voluntarily recalled some of its fresh tree fruit from grocery stores nationwide due to possible listeria contamination, said Tuesday that its consumer hotline has been overwhelmed.

The recall, initially announced Saturday, affected peaches, plums, pluots and nectarines sold at a number of California grocery chains, including Costco, Raley’s and Trader Joe’s.

Although no illnesses have been reported, the company issued a recall of fruit packed and shipped from its Tulare County packing house from June 1 through July 12. The company, based in Cutler, also notified retailers who purchased the fruit, so that they can remove any of the recalled lots.

Some of the fruit was sold under the Sweet 2 Eat label. It was sold in plastic clamshells, bulk bags or boxes.

Both Raley’s and Trader Joe’s posted notices to customers on their websites, advising consumers to toss out the fruit or return it for a full refund.

In an email to its loyalty card members, Raley’s said some of its stores sold the regular and organic peaches and nectarines that were included in the recall. Customers were advised to bring in the fruit or a store receipt for a refund.

Not all of the chain’s stores carried the Wawona stone fruits, which Raley’s said were “a fraction of our inventory.”

Wawona Packing’s recall was based on internal testing at its Cutler packing house. Company officials said they shut down the packing lines, retrofitted some equipment and sanitized the facility. Subsequent tests have been negative.

“We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products,” said Brent Smittcamp, president of Wawona Packing Co. “By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority.”

Health officials say listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

It is not known how the fruit became contaminated with the bacteria.

Consumers with questions can contact Wawona Packing at (888) 232-9912 weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., or visit www.wawonapacking.com.

Although consumers calling the information line have complained of unusually long waits, company president Smittcamp vowed to make changes. “We are working tirelessly to fix this issue,” he said in a prepared statement.

The company said it is increasing the number of people answering the hotline and has extended the hours.

A complete list and photos of the recalled fruit packaging is on the federal Food and Drug Administration’s website: www.fda.gov

The Sacramento Bee’s Claudia Buck contributed to this report.

Read more articles by Robert Rodriguez

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