ConAgra Foods announced late yesterday that it was finally recalling its Salmonella tainted Banquet and store brand pot pies. The announcement came several days after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had linked the ConAgra pot pies to more than 100 cases of Salmonella poisoning around the country. Earlier in the week, ConAgra had refused to issue a recall, and maintained that the pot pies were safe provided consumers cooked the products properly.
In addition to recalling turkey and chicken varieties of its pot pies, ConAgra is also asking consumers to return beef pot pies manufactured by the company as well. Included in the ConAgra pot pie recall are all varieties of Banquet Pot Pies, as well as ConAgra-produced generic brand pot pies under the following labels: Albertson’s, Food Lion, Great Value, Hill Country Fare, Kirkwood, Kroger, Meijer and Western Family. The pies were sold in 7 oz. single serving packages bearing an establishment number “P-9” or “Est. 1059” printed on the side of the package. The Salmonella contaminated pot pies were sold in all fifty states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.
The ConAgra pot pies are the prime suspects in a Salmonella epidemic that has so far sickened more than 165 people in 31 states. Salmonella bacteria cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 72 hours of exposure. Children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to complications from Salmonella poisoning. In rare cases, extreme instances of Salmonella poisoning can lead to a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, which is associated with chronic arthritis.
The ConAgra pot pie recall follows an October 9 health alert issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) linking the pies to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak. ConAgra warned consumers not to eat its pot pies, and asked stores to pull the tainted product from their shelves. ConAgra even suspended production at the Missouri plant that manufactured the Banquet and store brand pot pies. But despite the fact that the number of people sickened in the Salmonella outbreak then numbered well over 100, ConAgra refused to recall the pot pies. The company maintained that the pies were safe, and that the illnesses were the result of consumers undercooking the frozen pot pies. ConAgra also insisted that the health alert only applied to chicken and turkey pot pies, not beef.
Yesterday, news reports said that two state health officials from Minnesota and Oregon and formally requested that ConAgra officially recall the pies, but were rebuffed. Shortly after those reports circulated, ConAgra announced the pot pie recall. In its press release, the company said it had acted “to ensure the utmost clarity for consumers about the fact that they should not eat these products.”
This is the second time this year that ConAgra has had to issue a large-scale product recall because of Salmonella dangers. In February, the company recalled its Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter after it was blamed for a Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 600 people in 47 states. Considering how long ConAgra allowed its Salmonella tainted pot pies to stay in circulation, it would not be surprising if this latest outbreak became just as extensive.