Consumers urged to toss food products from local company

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published August 28, 2015

 A jar of syrup displays the label of a local company. On Aug. 24, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer advisory on the company's products due to a potential health risk.

A jar of syrup displays the label of a local company. On Aug. 24, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer advisory on the company's products due to a potential health risk.

Photo provided by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer advisory Aug. 24 regarding products sold at farmers markets and festivals that could pose a potential health risk.

Although no illnesses have been identified, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spokeswoman Jennifer Holton cautioned consumers to dispose of all products labeled under the brands Brandy’s “Jam”boree-N-More, Brandy & Dutch Weigand or Pier III.

Holton said the products were manufactured in an unlicensed facility not using required controls for the production of processed foods. Known products include various pickled products, relishes, syrups and jams, but other products may have been produced under the labels.

Locations where the products were sold include the Shelby Township, St. Clair Shores, Dodge Park, Sterling Heights and New Baltimore farmers markets.

On Aug. 23, Holton said inspectors were at the New Baltimore Farmers Market and noticed that the lids and tops of the cans weren’t the proper fit for the jars, so the seals to ensure the products’ safety were compromised.

When the inspector asked the vendor for a copy of her license, Holton said, the vendor produced an altered license not sanctioned by the organization.

“It is really a testament that our inspections and proactive measures to ensure food safety do protect public health,” Holton said.

She advised consumers who have any at-risk products or any foods made with such products to double bag them in tightly closed plastic bags and place them in a non-recyclable trash receptacle outside the home.

“Acidified foods like pickled products pose a serious risk of botulism if pH and other critical factors are not carefully controlled during processing to prevent the growth of C. botulinum,” according to a Department of Agriculture and Rural Development release.

According to the release, botulism — a potentially fatal form of food poisoning — can cause these symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of muscles, abdominal distension and constipation also may be common symptoms.

Those most susceptible to foodborne illness are the very young, the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

Mary Anne Demo, manager of the Shelby Township Farmers Market, responded to a request for comment with an emailed statement.

“I was shocked to see the news posting, and am so grateful that there weren’t any resulting foodborne illnesses reported,” she wrote. “I think that it’s a good reminder that you have to be very careful to process food properly even when canning for your home, let alone on a larger scale.”

She said she also wanted to make farmers market shoppers aware that there are many types of vendors and some are not required to be licensed by the state — it depends on the type of food and process involved.

“Those that sell as ‘cottage food’ will have a label that states: ‘Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture’ and a list of ingredients, the name and location of the operation, and allergen info,” Demo wrote.

For more information about Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, visit www.michigan.gov/mdard, select “Food & Dairy Safety,” and choose “Cottage Food Law.”

Holton said the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development included a range of photographs of at-risk products on its website.

To view the photos, visit www.michigan.gov/mdard and select “Consumer Advisory: Consumers Warned to Not Consume Brandy & Dutch Weigand Products Due to Potential Health Risk” under Recent News.

Brandy’s “Jam”boree-N-More did not respond for comment by press time.

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