Thanks to FDA’s weekly Enforcement Report summary, another stealth recall has just seen the light of day.

Leading the list of Class 1 Food recalls in the Enforcement Report for February 8, 2012 is the following item:

Robert’s S 1 cut leaf spinach; “Curly” spinach. There is no specific type of labeling on the 30 lb totes, except a small sticker label identifying the “pup” container which identifies the harvest date and the field. Field: Robert’s S 1. Harvest Date City: Uvalde, Texas. Farmer: Jimmy Crawford. Pup container #s: “11-21 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”, “11-22 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”, “11-23 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”, “11-25 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”, “11-28 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”, “11-29 2011 TIRO TRES FARMS Roberts S1”. Recall # F-0643-2012

a) 11/28/2011;.11-21 2011; 11-22 2011; 11-23 2011; 11-25 2011; 11-28 2011; 11-29 2011

Tiro Tres Farms, Eagle Pass, TX, by letters on December 31, 2011. Firm initiated recall is ongoing.

Product tested positive for E-coli O157:H7.

228,360 lbs

CO, KY, MA, PA, and Ontario and Quebec, Canada

If this recall had been publicized – WHICH IT WAS NOT – the news release might have read, “Tiro Tres Farms (Eagle Pass, TX) voluntarily recalls 228,360 pounds of Robert’s S 1 Cut Leaf “Curly” Spinach, due to possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The spinach was packed in 30-lb totes, bearing harvest dates of 11/28/2011, 11-21 2011; 11-22 2011, 11-23 2011, 11-25 2011, 11-28 2011 or 11-29 2011 and was distributed in Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. In addition, some of the spinach was shipped to Ontario and Quebec, Canada. The recall was initiated after a sample of the product tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

Neither FDA nor Canada’s CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) carried a notice of this recall.

This recall was initiated by Tiro Tres Farms and announced – ONLY by letters to the company’s customers – on December 31, 2011. The recall is ongoing, and there is no indication in the Enforcement Report whether the spinach was sold by retailers, or how much of the product was actually recovered. By now, of course, the recalled spinach has expired.

As far as I can tell, there were no illnesses associated with the recalled spinach.

I realize that not all recalls are created equal, and that not all recalls require public notification. But I cannot understand the rationale behind NOT publicizing a Class I Hazard recall of a ready-to-eat item of produce that may be contaminated with a potentially lethal pathogen.

Would anyone care to explain this to me?