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Del Rey Tortilleria Issues Flour Tortilla Recall Following another Mysterious Food Poisoning Outbreak

Nov 14, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Flour tortillas manufactured by Del Rey Tortilleria, Inc. have been recalled after dozens of students in Wisconsin became ill after eating the products.   While health officials still do not know what contaminant is responsible for the food poisoning outbreak, they have determined that all of the sickened students ate Del Rey flour tortillas before becoming ill.   Del Rey Tortilleria decided to issue the flour tortilla recall as a precaution.

According to the Food & Drug Administration, the Del Rey flour tortilla recall involves flour tortillas of all sizes including  White Flour Tortillas; Tortillas de Harina(6 inch); Burritos 2, 3, and 4; and Fajita 8" size.  The recalled tortillas all have the name "Del Rey" on the label, and are stamped with one of these Date Codes: OCT/17/07; OCT/20/07; OCT/24/07; NOV/04/07; NOV/10/07; or NOV/11/07. The products were distributed nationwide through food distributors and grocery stores. Consumers should immediately return recalled Del Rey flour tortillas subject to this recall to the store where they were purchased for a full refund or replacement.

Earlier this month, the Racine Unified School District closed two middle schools and an elementary school for one day after 80 children became sick.  Wisconsin health officials said that the recalled Del Rey flour tortillas were served at all three schools.  All of the sickened children exhibited flu-like symptoms including vomiting, nausea and abdominal cramping.   Though such symptoms are indicative of food borne illnesses like Salmonella, state health investigators said they do not believe that a bacteria is responsible for the outbreak.   Stool samples from sickened students tested negative for bacterial pathogens or norovirus, the most common causes of food-borne illness.

While Del Rey insisted yesterday that the flour tortilla recall was only a precaution, this is not the first time the Chicago-based company has issued a recall after mysterious outbreak of food poisoning.   In January 2006, Del Rey recalled four varieties of flour tortillas after they were suspected of making people sick.  At that time, the company’s tortillas were linked to an illness outbreak in December 2005 that sickened 53 students and three staff members at five middle schools in Illinois.  People stricken in that outbreak also complained of stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and headaches.  The source of that food poisoning outbreak has never been determined. However, lab results following a 2003 outbreak in Massachusetts found elevated levels of two chemical additives used in the production of Del Rey tortillas — potassium bromate and calcium propionate. The levels were elevated compared to common industry practices, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  A recent smaller outbreak associated with flour tortillas occurred in September in Iowa,.


Most of the illnesses associates with the recalled Del Rey tortillas have occurred within one day of a victim eating the product.   The symptoms last about 24 hours, and appear to have no long-term health consequences.   


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