What To Know About The Massive Recall Of Over 400 Ready-To-Eat Foods

It may seem counterintuitive to some in the post-pandemic era, but Research and Markets reports that demand for ready-to-eat pre-packaged foods, including sandwiches, salads, entrees, and snacks, has only grown since 2021. If you're someone who even occasionally makes use of this convenience, then you're going to want to think back to what you were eating on and between January 24 through January 30, 2023. Because if there's any chance you may have bought or consumed any ready-to-eat foods during that timeframe, then it's important to be aware of a massive recall of such foods that was issued on February 3, 2023.

According to an announcement published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a Baltimore, Maryland-based wholesale grocer recalled more than 400 lines of ready-to-eat foods, including sandwiches, salads, bowls, fruit plates, snack plates, and desserts. The reason was possible contamination with the bacteria responsible for causing listeriosis, a relatively rare foodborne illness that can nevertheless be life-threatening for some, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All such foods were sold at retail outlets, including grocery stores, convenience stores, airports, and other travel hubs, while some were sold via vending machines. 

As of February 3, no reported illnesses have been tied to this particular recall. However, if there's any chance you may have consumed any ready-to-eat foods during that timeframe — or if there's a chance you may have any such foods still in your possession — then please read on for safety's sake.

Most of the recalled food was intended for immediate consumption

On February 3, 2023, wholesale food manufacturer, Fresh Ideation Food Group LLC recalled 400 different product lines of ready-to-eat foods sold under various brand names from January 24 through January 30, 2023, per a company announcement published contemporaneously by the FDA. All recalled foods bore a "Fresh Creative Cuisine" label and a use-by date between January 31 and today, February 6. All were sold in the following ten states/territories: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. You'll find the full list of all recalled foods in the FDA's announcement.

Please be aware that the recalled foods include a large variety of sandwiches, including breakfast sandwiches, wrap sandwiches, wedge sandwiches, hoagies, and other sandwiches served on rolls, as well as finger sandwiches (i.e., small-size sandwiches that come in four-packs and some cases, 15-packs). Also included in the recall were various bowls, pizzas, and other entrees, as well as snack plates, yogurt and pudding parfaits, fruit cups, muffins, and cakes. Additionally, some of the recalled ready-to-eat foods were sold as "catering" items, meaning they were intended to serve multiple individuals

The company initiated the recall after environmental sampling revealed the presence of listeria monocytogenes. Environmental samplings, as the FDA explains, refer to swab/sponge tests of tools and surfaces used in manufacturing foods. Because, presumably, most of the recalled food has already been consumed, here is what to keep in mind.

What to do if you think you ate any of the recalled food items

Most of the ready-to-eat foods subject to this recall were intended for immediate consumption, and all bore a use-by date of no later than February 6, per the company's recall announcement(via the FDA). Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume, and quite likely, that many items have already been consumed. However, if you have any such items still in your possession, the better part of caution requires that you discard them immediately, presumably for a refund by the manufacturer. 

Moreover, if you believe that you may have consumed any of the food items that are subject to this recall, then you're being urged to contact the company by phone as soon as possible. The company's phone number is 855-969-3338. Phone lines are monitored Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. EST.

Individuals who are "otherwise healthy" people tend not to be significantly affected by listeriosis, the foodborne illness caused by the bacteria at issue in this recall, according to the Word Health Organization (WHO). Those at greatest risk are pregnant people and their unborn babies, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Symptoms tend to be flu-like (e.g., fever, headaches, and body aches) and tend to present within one to two weeks after consuming contaminated food, But occasionally, it takes up to 90 days after exposure. Next up, learn how the FDA plans on making some foods easier to trace.