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Report: Possible tainted spinach could be in Alaska stores

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Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 11:57 pm

FAIRBANKS — Fred Meyer stores in Alaska may have sold organic baby spinach contaminated with salmonella and the company is asking consumers to check the product carefully.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued a press release Thursday warning that Taylor Farms Retail Inc. was recalling 5-ounce clamshell packages of Private Selection Organic Baby Spinach with the UPC code 0-11110-91128-5 and a “best by” date of 5-25-12. The “best by” date can be found on the lower right portion of the front label.

Private Selection is an in-store brand exclusive to Kroger, the supermarket chain which owns the Fred Meyer stores.

After receiving word from Taylor Farms that a finished package of Private Selection organic baby spinach had tested positive for possible salmonella contamination, Fred Meyer posted signs in all of its stores, warning of the recall.

Robocalls were also placed to all customers who had used their rewards cards to purchase the possibly contaminated product.

Even though company officials do not believe the contaminated product was sold in Alaska, they “erred on the side of caution” and notified consumers in the Fairbanks area, according to Fred Meyer spokeswoman Amanda Ip.

“At the time of the recall, there was no product on our shelves in any of our Alaska stores, but there may have been a possibility that at one point it could have snuck in there,” Ip said. “Customers should follow the regular recall protocols. They want to check their product and see what the sell-by date is, and if it happens to be the product that was recalled, they’re welcome to bring it back to our stores for a full refund.”

Though the DEC press release stated it had “confirmed the distribution of these products in Alaska,” it later retracted that statement after further consultation with Fred Meyer officials.

“We issued our press release based on the Food and Drug Administration’s press release that indicated product had come to Alaska, and one of our staff saw a sign posted in one of the Fairbanks Fred Meyer stores indicating that they’d had the product,” DEC Food Safety and Sanitation Program Manager Kim Stryker said. “All of the stores reported back to corporate indicating that the product did not come to them and that they didn’t discriminate when they sent those signs around to all of their stores.”

The DEC website states that “salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.” Salmonella symptoms in healthy people include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain beginning 12-72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.

Persons experiencing any of these symptoms who believe they may have been exposed to salmonella should seek medical attention.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7590.

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