On May 17, 2011, Nielsen-Massey recalled Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste (Lot #11123) after its outside testing lab reported having found Listeria monocytogenes in a routine test sample.

The company also notified FDA and dispatched a recall letter to its customers within 24 hours of receiving the lab’s test results.

I have just received the following news release issued by Nielsen-Massey, which is self-explanatory.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas’ Voluntary Product Recall Was Unnecessary

Found to be Based on Laboratory’s Error 

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (June 9, 2011) A voluntary recall of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas’ Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste has been found to be based on a false-positive Listeria reading reported by the company’s outside testing laboratory. Subsequent investigations and further tests by the FDA, the outside lab in question and another independent lab brought in to re-verify the results, all came back negative. There were no positive results in any raw material used or for any of the equipment used in the process. Additionally, the other independent lab and the FDA laboratory, using the exact same gallon bottle of Paste which tested positive initially, found no trace of Listeria whatsoever. As the FDA did not have any findings as a result of their investigation, no Form 483 was issued.

On May 16, 2011, Nielsen-Massey’s outside testing laboratory advised Nielsen-Massey that it had detected potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination in lot no. 11123 of its Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste product as part of its regular quality control testing. Nielsen-Massey acted immediately, notifying the FDA and writing and dispatching a recall letter to its customers within 24 hours of the lab’s notification. There have been no reports of illness related to Nielsen-Massey’s.

This recall did not affect Nielsen-Massey’s other products.

“We acted immediately when consumer safety became an issue,” said Craig Nielsen, chief executive officer. “And we would do the same thing again, since an error on the side of safety is almost always the right thing to do. But it’s extremely unfortunate that a laboratory error caused such inconvenience to our customers and consumers. We’ve notified all our customers and have apologized to them as well.

“For 104 years we have provided the world’s finest vanilla products made with the utmost care and safeguards. Nielsen-Massey remains committed to providing the world’s finest vanilla for the best customers in the world.”

My compliments to Nielsen-Massey’s management for erring on the side of consumer protection and food safety!