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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Outbreaks and Recalls? Nestle cares more about cats than Nadine Scharf, president and co-owner of Evergreen Produce Sprouts, cares about their owners

caot-facts.jpgI was struck by the press release on the FDA website that Nestle Purina PetCare was voluntarily recalling 870 bags of potentially Salmonella positive cat food shipped only to Colorado, Idaho and Oregon even though there had been no consumer complaints and no reports of illness. Nestle also posted this:

At Nestle Purina PetCare, the safety and efficacy of our products are our top priority. We apologize for any inconvenience due to this voluntary recall.

However, yesterday on the same FDA website was this dire warning (with no recall):

Do not eat Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts
- Sprouts may contain Salmonella Enteritidis

Today, June 28th, the CDC issued a statement, increasing the number of sick people to 21 with three having been hospitalized. The illnesses began April 12 and continued to be reported through June 7, the CDC reported. However, because of the two- to three-week lag time in reporting the agency said additional people may have become sick after June 9.

alfalfa-sprout.jpgAnd what has been Evergreen Produces’ response? Here are some of my favorites:

• Scharf said the FDA has asked her to recall the sprouts but that she doesn’t believe the agency has enough evidence to link the illnesses to her products. Most of the sprouts have probably been consumed anyway, she said.

• The FDA “inspected every nook and cranny, every part of our plant, and that was a week ago and they haven’t come up with anything yet,” Scharf said. “We’ll see. Maybe they will. Who knows.”

• “It’s all speculation, assumptions,” said Ms. Scharf, commenting about FDA’s link to the company’s products. “We do water testing three times a week and sample our products,” she said. The facility undergoes a third-party audit every three months to satisfy military buyers.

• The impact of the FDA investigation and outbreak is taking its toll on the 13-people company. “It’s really hurting us. We’ve cut production to one-fourth,” she said.

• While FDA asked Evergreen Produce to recall its alfalfa and spicy sprouts the week of June 20, Ms. Sharf said that she refused because orchestrating a recall would be “admitting guilt.” She added, “Fourteen families eat our sprouts every day and have never become sick.”

• “So far they haven’t offered one bit of concrete evidence that we have a problem,” she said. “Our company’s name has been smeared and it makes me think, the way they are going about this, that maybe they just want to shut us down.

• “The FDA encouraged us to do a recall but I said I needed to see hard evidence that our sprouts were involved,” Scharf said. “They are down to only three cases now. It started out that they thought 20 people were sick, then they dropped that number to six and now it’s down to three. And they say it will be a week before any tests results will be available.”

• “If I had the money I would be fighting what they (FDA and Idaho state health officials) have done,” Scharf said. “They have issued that statement and smeared us without any evidence.

My suggestion is that Evergreen Produce needs a new spokesperson or should start selling cat food.

  • Doc Mudd

    If Nadine recklessly forces a showdown with FDA, before long she won’t be selling cat food or much of anything else – she’ll likely be eating cat food to keep body and soul together. Lucky thing cat food is monitored for food safety, eh?

  • Jeff Almer

    Deny, deny, deny–that is the culture of our society unfortunately. Will this ignoramus eat her own product? Highly doubtful.
    Those of us affected by Stewart Parnell of Peanut Corp Of America are very aware of Nestle having conducted their own inspections years ago of PCA before doing business with the purveyors of salmonella delights.
    Nestle refused to buy PCA products after a legitimate inspection borne out the filthy conditions at Parnell’s plant. Maker’s of such fine brands as “Parnell’s Pride” you know.

  • Minkpuppy

    Thanks to Nestle’s timely response and release of information related to the cat food recall, I was able to check the production code on our newly purchased bag of cat food to reassure myself that our little feline monsters were safe from Salmonella. (Our devil dogs are safe also since they always steal the cat food)
    It’s pretty sad that I can trust the company that produces the food I feed my dogs and cats but not a company that produces sprouts intended for human consumption.
    Ms. Sharf sounds exactly like every meat producer in the US when E. coli O157:H7 popped up on the radar. “It’s someone else’s problem, not me!”. She’ll swear to the day she dies that it couldn’t be her produce even if she’s presented with indisputable scientific evidence.
    My guess is that if she can’t afford to fight the FDA, then she can’t afford the inevitable lawsuits from the victims of her contaminated sprouts either. Good luck, Ms. Sharf. You’ll need it.