A Whole Foods problem is ‘a pattern,’ the FDA says in an unprecedented warning letter
Macaroni & Cheese. Vodka sauce. Green Chile Chicken Tamales. These were just three of the foods recalled by the Whole Foods Market for undeclared allergens not listed on the packaging.
And the FDA is fed up with the mistakes that can make people with food allergies sick.
The FDA released a warning letter to Whole Foods Tuesday "to learn how to obtain mislabelled food products and put them on sale that require a number of allergen food recalls."
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To make sure no one thought this was a typical warning letter, the FDA stated, “This is the first time the FDA has warned a retailer about a pattern of receiving and offering for sale underbranded foods containing undeclared allergens . "
A statement by a Whole Foods spokesman emailed the Miami Herald Tuesday afternoon said: “The Whole Foods Market takes food safety very seriously. We work closely with the FDA to ensure that all practices and procedures in our stores meet, if not exceed, food safety requirements. We continue to strive to maintain the highest quality standards in the industry. "
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Food allergy recalls are the most common Class 1 recalls to avoid the most serious possible consequences. Depending on the person, food allergies can go from mild to fatal with terrible rapidity. In 2018 Weston teenager Alexi Stafford accidentally ate a Chip Ahoy cookie with peanut butter. She died 90 minutes later.
For this reason, allergens that are commonly used are listed separately on ingredient labels, usually just below the other ingredients. The main food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy.
Not only had Whole Foods demolished 32 food products for undeclared allergens last year, according to the FDA, but the agency saw the same thing in the other years.
"These products included a variety of foods that were sold under the Whole Foods brand primarily in the delicatessen and bakery areas of the store," said the FDA.
The last letter last Wednesday listed five different recalls since November 2019, for which Whole Foods blamed errors by suppliers, store employees and their internal labeling system, among other things.
The FDA followed suit with a boiler plate closed to a warning letter stating that Whole Foods has 15 working days to respond in writing with exactly what it is doing to contain this event.
"Failure to promptly correct these violations could result in FDA enforcement actions without further notice, including seizure and / or restraining order."
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