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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on November 30 that the U.S. Marshals Service seized more than 4 million pounds of product produced by Valley Milk Products LLC (Valley Milk) of Strasburg, Virginia. The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint, on behalf of the FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Virginia Western District, alleging that the seized products are adulterated.   The seized products include dry nonfat milk powder and buttermilk powder packaged in 40- and 50-pound bags for further manufacturing and are worth nearly $4 million. During an FDA inspection of Valley Milk from July – September 2016, the FDA investigators observed poor sanitary practices and saw in the company’s records positive results for Salmonella in the plant’s internal environmental and finished product samples. Environmental swabs collected during the inspection confirmed the presence of Salmonella meleagridis on food contact surfaces used after product pasteurization.  “The FDA urged Valley Milk to conduct a voluntary recall of the implicated products” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The firm refused to recall and, as a result, we have had to intervene and seize this adulterated food to prevent it from reaching consumers who could be exposed to Salmonella from these products.”   Eventually, on December 9, 2016 the FDA announced that the company recalled limited amounts of this product due to potential Salmonella contamination. The contamination was discovered at the manufacturing facility but not in tested finished product.   None of the recalled finished product tested positive for Salmonella but environmental sampling performed by the FDA was positive for Salmonella. Valley Milk is currently investigating the cause for the positive environmental samples.

The Ripple Effect

The powder milk and buttermilk from Valley Milk are not sold directly to consumers, but rather used as an ingredient in a number of food products.  Numerous companies used Valley MILK powdered milk and buttermilk and consequently their products were recalled causing a ripple effect.   FDA advised the companies that purchased Valley Milk products that they need to take action if they are using the recalled ingredients in ready-to-eat product where there is no FDA-recognized kill step or inactivation in their processing system. As a result, in the past few days, several different food manufacturers have voluntarily recalled their products.   No illnesses have been reported due to the consumption of any of these products.

Companies involved in secondary recalls

Shearer’s Foods, LLC – kettle chips, potato chips, and nacho chips

FDA reported that Shearer’s Foods, initiated a recall after being notified on 12/7/16 by Valley Milk. Their seasoning contained the recalled milk powder and sweet cream buttermilk powder.   The company recalled a variety of Kettle Chip, and Nacho Cheese, Nacho Tortilla chips, etc. These products had been distributed nationwide.

Deep River Snacks – kettle chips

Deep River Snacks issued a voluntary recall on December 10 for certain Sour Cream & Onion Kettle Chips after being informed by a tertiary ingredient supplier that the buttermilk powder used in the seasoning may contain traces of Salmonella(source FDA).   “The health and safety of our consumers is always our top priority,” said Jim Goldberg, Deep River Snacks’ founder and CEO. “Although we haven’t found any contaminants in either our seasonings or our finished products, we are taking great precautions to protect our customers.”

TreeHouse Foods, Inc. – macaroni and cheese

TreeHouse Foods, Inc. announced on December 12 a voluntary recall of certain macaroni and cheese cup products containing cheddar cheese seasoning which may be have been contaminated with Salmonella (source: FDA) due to the Valley Milk product.   TreeHouse Foods, Inc. manufactures packaged foods and beverages with more than 50 manufacturing facilities across the United States, Canada and Italy that focuses primarily on private label products in retail groceries.

New Hope Mills – crepe mix

On December 12 NEW HOPE MILLS announced a voluntarily recall of limited quantities of their  Crepe MIX due to the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, because of Valley Milk, the supplier of the bulk milk powder (source:FDA).  Although no pathogenic bacteria have been found in the powdered milk product supplied to New Hope Mills, the company had decided out of an abundance of caution to recall the product produced from the specific lot received from their ingredient supplier. The affected New Hope Mills Crepe MIX was shipped to distributors and retailers in the New York and Pennsylvania areas.

Fourth Street Barbecue Inc. – macaroni and cheese

On December 12 Fourth Street Barbecue Inc., Packing Division, initiated voluntary recall of Cheese Club Express Mac & Cheese 4 cup dinner and Double Takes Macaroni & Cheese 2 cup dinner, due to possible contamination with Salmonella. The powdered cheese packets may had been impacted by milk powder ingredients recalled by Valley Milk Products (source: FDA).   Product was distributed nationwide through retail stores. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Brand Castle, LLC – monkey bread mix

On December 12 Brand Castle LLC voluntarily recalled limited quantities of their The Mix® Monkey Bread Mix because it had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella( FDA . This is again due to Valley Milk Products buttermilk powder.     Affected product was sold to a single retailer in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI. 168 cases of product (i.e., 1008 units) are affected by this recall.   To date, there have been no reported illnesses, and no Salmonella has been found in the recalled lots of buttermilk powder used in the product.

Additional Recalls are likely to come

There are additional products being recalled due to the supplier of milk powder, such as Publix premium pancakes (source:FDA ). While Valley Milk is not mentioned, it is likely the reason for the recall.   Just today (FDA) Old Dutch Foods Inc. announced voluntarily recalling a limited number of Flavored Potato Chip and Tortilla Chip products that were made with milk ingredients supplied by one of its’ secondary seasoning component suppliers  Valley Milk.   It is quite likely that more recalls will be issued in the near future, as more products will be found that use the Valley Milk powders.

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