Listeria Leads to Recall of Sunflower Kernel Products, Including Popular Brand “Planters”


SunOpta Recalls Popular ”Planters” Brand Sunflower Kernels; Other Products

SunOpta today announced a voluntary recall of multiple sunflower kernel products made by the company. The recall was initiated due to potential contamination of the product with Listeria monocytogenes.

Healthy people who contract listeriosis, the disease caused by infection with Listeria bacteria, typically only suffer short-term symptoms. These symptoms typically include some or all of the following:

  • Diarrhea;
  • High fever;
  • Stiffness;
  • Nausea;
  • Severe headache; and
  • Abdominal pain.

Pregnant women need to exercise utmost caution with respect to exposure to Listeria monocytogenes.  Listeria infection is well-known to be a cause of miscarriages and stillbirths.

Sunflower Kernels: Toss These in the Trash

All of the sunflower kernels subject to the recall came off the production lines at the Crookston, Minnesota SunOpta plant between February 1, 2016 and February 19, 2016.

Regardless of the product, recalled items all were sold in printed clear plastic bags, and are marked with “Best Buy” dates, These dates are located on each single package, and are stamped on either the front or the back of the product.

The sunflower kernel products subject to the recall are limited numbers of both “Dakota’s Best Biggy’s Roasted and Salted Kernels” and “Planters Sunflower Kernels.” More precisely, the company is recalling products with the following characteristics:

  • Dakota’s Best Biggy’s Roasted and Salted Kernels, 16 oz.
    • UPC: 834648001484;Biggy's Roasted and Salted Kernels recalled by SunOpta due to listeria contamination
    • Lot No. FEB-11-17C2; and
    • “Best By” Date: 02/11/2017.
  • Planters Sunflower Kernels, 3 oz.UPC: 029000012714;
    • Lot No. 7065A3, 7066A3, 7067A3, 7065B3, 7066B3, 7067B3, 7065C3, 7066C3, or 7077C3; and
    • “Best By” Date of 3/06/2017, 3/07/2017, or 3/08/2017.

The recall, announced Monday, May 4th, did not come in time to keep all of the potentially listeria-contaminated seeds inside of the SunOpta facility, and the contaminated goods may now be available to consumers nationwide.

Recalled Product on Store Shelves Nationwide

The recalled seeds reached store shelves via one of two distribution centers located  in Illinois and North Dakota. The company shipped Planters Sunflower Kernels recalled by SunOpta due to listeria contaminationan undisclosed number of the recalled items to the two distribution centers between February 22nd and February 25th. The company then distributed the contaminated kernel-containing items “to other states nationwide.”

The FDA warns that the contaminated products may be present in whole-sellers’ inventories or on the shelves of retailers across the United States. The Agency goes on to urge “retailers and wholesale customers [to] check their inventories and shelves to confirm that none of the products are present or available for purchase by consumers or in warehouse inventories.”

The recall announcement also states that consumers who have purchased and/or are otherwise in possession of the recalled sunflower kernels should in no case eat them. This is particularly true in the case of young children, elderly or frail people, and other individuals with weakened immune systems, as a Listeria infection that occurs in a person falling under one of those “risk groups” tend to be much more serious and have the potential to be fatal.

Company Perspectives To-Date:

The company included a statement in its recall announcement, stating

quality and safety of the food we produce and the ingredients we provide are the highest priority for us. Therefore, we are voluntarily recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes . We have isolated the production window to a short timeframe and are working with the FDA and customers to control and dispose of affected product.

SunOpta reported that it had received one customer complaint, but that complaint did not involve any illness and was not linked to the outbreak. SunOpta did note at the beginning of its announcement that no illnesses have been reported to date.

The company concluded that it is not presently “aware of any consumer issues due to consumption of this product,” but “in an abundance of caution . . . is recalling the products.”

If you became ill after eating sunflower seeds or sunflower kernels or have otherwise been affected by food poisoning, please fill out our free case evaluation form or call us toll-free at 1-888-335-4901. One of our attorneys will contact you to discuss your potential case at absolutely no cost to you.


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