UI safe from U.S. produce recalls


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The University of Iowa has not pulled any food from its dining halls, despite a number of recent produce recalls nationwide.

The first Iowa case of cantaloupe-linked listeriosis — a bacterial infection caused by listeria that can lead to fever, nausea and muscle aches — was reported Wednesday, according to a press release.

The UI has a specific procedure in place in the event that its distributors report contaminated products.

"The first thing we do is to check with our suppliers," said Gregory Black, the UI director of residential dining. "Then we go from there. If there is some danger, we certainly react to it immediately. [Our suppliers] are in contact with the growers and manufactures themselves."

Black said the UI has not received any information from its vender, Martin Bros. Distributing Co. Inc. in Cedar Falls, of issues with the food it serves in the dining halls.

The UI is continuing to serve all regularly scheduled products, including lettuce and cantaloupes.

However, Iowa State University was affected by the recall.

"We did have three cases of cantaloupe that were part of the cantaloupe recall," Brittney Rugherford, marketing and communication manager for ISU dining, wrote in an e-mail. "This was disposed of immediately… We were able to get cantaloupe that wasn't affected by the recall, and we were able to keep cantaloupe on the menu as planned."

ISU also receives information from distributors about any affected products, said Rugherford.

Ohio State University receives that information, too, said Mark Newton, the school's executive chef of residence hall dining

"All physical locations that get deliveries are e-mailed with recalls … I look at foodsafegynews.com—it tells you about foods they're having issues with before the actual recall happens."

While Ohio State did not have to pull any of the recently recalled products, Newton said, a romaine-lettuce recall roughly two years ago required the university to pull that produce.

Black said he could not recall any instances where the UI has pulled products.

Independent food-safety consultant Warren Gilbert said the specific batches of tainted foods can be tracked to be effectively pulled if need be.

"It's usually very farm-specific," he said. "We can trace a head of lettuce from the day that it's picked all the way to the table."

Gilbert advises immediately sending recalled items back to the manufacturer. He also suggested consumers wash all products, regardless of recall status.

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