Almond milk has become a popular alternative to cow’s milk, with many people choosing it for its health benefits. However, recent recalls of almond milk products have raised concerns about their safety.
In Australia’s most populous state, a popular brand of unsweetened almond milk was recalled due to potential biotoxin contamination, while in the United States, a batch of vanilla almond milk was found to contain milk, an allergen not listed on the label.
In this article, we will take a closer look at these recalls and what they mean for consumers.
What Almond Milk Was Recalled?
The first recall occurred in New South Wales, Australia, where Inside Out Nutritious Goods Pty Ltd recalled their Inside Out Unsweetened Almond Milk Collagen + Calcium + Prebiotics product. The recall was due to potential biotoxin contamination, specifically botulinum toxin, which can cause botulism. The recall was initiated after a person was admitted to the hospital after consuming the product and experiencing severe symptoms of botulism.
The second recall occurred in the United States, where HP Hood LLC voluntarily recalled a limited number of half-gallon cartons of refrigerated Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk. The recall was due to the product potentially containing milk, an allergen not listed on the label. This recall affected approximately 145,254 half-gallon cartons of the product shipped to retailers and wholesalers in 28 states.
The Australian Almond Milk Recall
The Australian almond milk recall was specifically for the Inside Out Unsweetened Almond Milk product with a use-by date of 1 March. The product was being sold at Woolworths stores in the state of New South Wales. The recall was initiated after a person was admitted to the hospital due to severe symptoms of botulism after consuming the product. Initial investigations confirmed the presence of botulinum toxin in a sample of the milk, leading to concerns about potential biotoxin contamination. The NSW Food Authority is currently investigating the manufacturing process of the product to determine the possible cause of contamination.
NSW Health advises consumers not to consume the recalled product and to check their fridge and cupboards for it. Anyone who has purchased the product is urged to dispose of it or return it to the supermarket for a refund. Early symptoms of food-borne botulism include weakness, fatigue, and vertigo, followed by blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. These symptoms can progress to paralysis of arm muscles and continue down the body to the trunk and legs. Paralysis of breathing muscles can be fatal.
While food-borne botulism is very rare in Australia, it can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. NSW Health advises anyone experiencing symptoms after consuming the recalled product to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may begin from a few hours to several days after consuming the contaminated product. Details of the affected product are listed on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website. Inside Out Nutritious Goods Pty Ltd has assured consumers that it takes any potential food contamination issue extremely seriously and has been providing every assistance to relevant authorities since being informed of the potential contamination issue.
Biotoxin Contamination And Its Dangers
Biotoxin contamination is a serious concern for food safety officials and consumers alike. In the case of the Inside Out Unsweetened Almond Milk recall, the biotoxin in question was botulinum toxin. This toxin is produced by bacteria and can be extremely dangerous, leading to life-threatening illnesses such as botulism.
Botulism is a rare but serious condition that causes descending paralysis caused by nerve toxins made by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It can result from eating food that has been contaminated with the toxin (foodborne botulism) or ingesting food, dust or soil that contains bacteria that produce the toxin (intestinal botulism) or contaminating a wound with the bacteria (wound botulism). Intestinal botulism affecting children under 12 months of age is known as infant botulism. This is the most common form of botulism.
Early symptoms of foodborne botulism include weakness, fatigue, and vertigo. While these symptoms occur commonly due to a number of health conditions, with botulism, it is usually followed by blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. These symptoms can progress to paralysis of the arm muscles and continue down the body to the trunk and legs, and paralysis of breathing muscles can be fatal.
It is important to note that failure to refrigerate products can lead to microbial growth and biotoxin contamination which may cause illness if consumed. Therefore, it is crucial that consumers follow proper storage instructions for all food products, including almond milk.
The US Vanilla Almond Milk Recall
The US Vanilla Almond Milk Recall was initiated by HP Hood LLC, the manufacturer of Blue Diamond’s Almond Milk. The recall was due to a limited number of half-gallon cartons of refrigerated Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk potentially containing milk, an allergen not listed on the label. This recall affected approximately 145,254 half-gallon cartons of the product shipped to retailers and wholesalers in 28 states. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The product is safe to consume unless you have a milk allergy or sensitivity. To date, there has been one report of an allergic reaction, but medical treatment or hospitalization was not required. The affected product has a use-by date of September 2, 2018, and can be identified by a Universal Product Code (UPC barcode) of 41570 05621 on the side panel next to the nutrition facts. The recall only applies to refrigerated Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk with this use-by date and UPC barcode. The recall was initiated with the knowledge of the US Food and Drug Administration, and HP Hood LLC is voluntarily recalling the affected product as a precautionary measure.
The Importance Of Accurate Allergen Labeling
The importance of accurate allergen labeling cannot be overstated. Allergies can be life-threatening, and accurate labeling is crucial in preventing serious allergic reactions. In the case of the Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk recall, the product may have contained dairy milk, which is a known allergen. Failure to list this ingredient on the label could have resulted in severe allergic reactions for those with milk allergies or sensitivities.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines for allergen labeling, requiring that all major food allergens be listed on food labels. This includes milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Accurate labeling ensures that consumers can make informed decisions about what they eat and avoid potential allergens.
Inaccurate or incomplete labeling can have serious consequences. It can lead to allergic reactions and even death for those with severe allergies. Accurate labeling is not only important for individuals with allergies but also for their families and caregivers who need to be aware of potential allergens.
How To Ensure The Safety Of Your Almond Milk
To ensure the safety of your almond milk, it is important to understand how to properly store and handle it. First and foremost, if you have a milk allergy or sensitivity, be sure to check the label of any almond milk product before consuming it. In the case of the recent recall of Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk, the product was safe to consume unless you had a milk allergy or sensitivity.
When purchasing almond milk, be sure to check the use-by date on the carton and choose the farthest out date to ensure freshness. Once you bring your almond milk home, make sure to store it properly. Any almond milk sold in the refrigerated section of the supermarket should be stored in the refrigerator when you get home. This kind of almond milk is not shelf-stable and should be treated like dairy products.
Refrigerated almond milk comes in a variety of different types of containers such as paperboard, glass, and plastic. When unopened, refrigerated almond milk will last until the expiration date printed on the label. Once opened, it should be used within 7 days. It is important to note that these guidelines may vary depending on the brand and type of almond milk, so always check the label for specific instructions.
In addition to proper storage and handling, it is also important to stay informed about recalls and public health alerts related to food products. Real-time notices of recalls and alerts from regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available online. If you have purchased a product that has been recalled, do not open or consume it. Instead, return it to the place of purchase for a refund or dispose of it following the instructions provided in the recall notice to ensure that no one will consume it. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your almond milk is safe for consumption.