Nutriom has partially expanded a recall of egg products but said there is ‘no scientific or legal basis to further expand' it in response to a USDA statement that it declined to take action.
The firm said it would be doing a ‘disservice to its customers to recall and destroy egg products’ under the circumstances.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) had issued a public health alert after the firm declined to expand an earlier recall to an additional 118,541 pounds of processed egg products because they could be unfit for human consumption.
The request for expansion was based on evidence collected during an investigation by the agency.
Nutriom, which has developed a method for dehydrating eggs using a patent-pending drying technology, said yesterday it was conducting a partial recall expansion of six production lots.
“Although products from these lots were tested at an FSIS approved laboratory and found to be safe, we have determined that a technical, non-food safety related error, occurred,” Hernan Etcheto, founder and CEO of the firm, told FoodQualityNews.com.
“Based upon our research, we concluded that there is no scientific or legal basis for us to further expand the recall beyond these six lots.
“We presented FSIS with substantial supporting information on our production practices, including a series of laboratory test results from both private and federal government laboratories confirming microbiological safety.”
The firm added that for reasons that remain unclear, the arguments were rejected by FSIS.
The recall includes products from production lots H0613-B, H1413-A, I01413-A, J0113-A, K0513-A and K1213-A. See the earlier recalled products here .
False lab results?
FSIS said it issued the original recall because it believes the company recorded false laboratory results.
“The company allegedly produced negative laboratory results for Salmonella when the results were actually positive, or reported that sampling had occurred when no microbial testing was performed,” said FSIS.
Nutriom has been operating its facility in Lacey, Washington since 2003 under full-time inspection by USDA-FSIS, said the firm.
Irregularities in recordkeeping
Etcheto said the company has never had ‘even a suggestion’ of any injury or illness with its products.
“In February of this year we conducted a voluntary recall of some of our products in response to a request from FSIS,” he said.
“The request was based upon irregularities in recordkeeping that were the responsibility of an individual no longer employed by the company.
“There were no suggestions of any food safety problems assocaited with the product, but we decided to fully coperate with the agency.”
The problem was discovered by Washington State Labs in response to a billing inquiry by Nutriom.
The laboratory notified FSIS personnel of the discrepancies in laboratory results.
On 15 February the company recalled 226,710 pounds of processed egg products.
The dried egg products were produced from May 2013 - January 2014, and bear the establishment number “INSPECTED EGG PRODUCTS PLANT 21493G” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection.
These products were shipped nationwide and to US military installations in the US and abroad, and to Mexico.
FSIS inspects egg products under the Egg Products Inspection Act.
FDA typically takes jurisdiction of egg products after they leave the facility if they are incorporated into FDA-regulated products.
USDA handled the original recall because products are in consumer packages with an identifiable USDA Mark of Inspection, and FSIS had jurisdiction over the product when the contamination occurred.