J & D Produce Inc. of Edinburg, Texas, has recalled a substantial quantity of parsley and cilantro which was contaminated with salmonella (serotype not specified). Random sampling applied by U.S. and Canadian inspectors revealed the presence of potential pathogens. Traceback confirmed that the produce was packed on November 30 and December 6, 2010 in the implicated plant.
At the present time there are no recorded cases of illness associated with this source. As a precaution the company recalled other produce including leeks, mustard beets, Swiss chard and turnips. The company shut down all production lines, sanitized the packing plant and implemented additional rinsing steps.
Salmonella contamination of produce is an emerging problem and represents a significant challenge to producers and public health authorities since most of the products are consumed in salads and are not subjected to any potential thermal inactivation as with red and white meat and eggs.
It is also noteworthy that the produce apparently grown in the Rio Grande Valley was distributed widely in the U.S. and also in two Canadian Provinces representing challenges to trace back and recall in the event of a public health incident.
Combating salmonella contamination of produce and green vegetables was a major topic at the 2010 Institute of Food Technology Annual Scientific Meeting. There are no absolute modalities to eliminate risk but possibilities include improved cultivation practices, immersion of produce in disinfectant solutions and possibly low dose gamma or electron beam irradiation.