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Salmonella risk prompts Wonderful Pistachios to issue voluntary recall

Wonderful Pistachios is voluntarily recalling a limited number of flavors and sizes of in-shell and shelled pistachios due to a risk of Salmonella contamination. Health officials are currently investigating 11 cases in nine states that have been reported in connection with this matter.pistachio

In cooperation with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control, on March 9, Wonderful Pistachios directed affected retailers to remove the specified pistachio products from shelves and advised consumers not to eat and to discard these products.

"Wonderful Pistachios takes food-safety matters very seriously and is working closely with health officials to identify the source of the problem," the company said in a release. "In an effort to further enhance our food-safety program and ensure the health and well being of our consumers, we have, effective immediately, proactively increased our sampling frequencies and lot size testing.  The implementation of these augmented safety protocols further exceeds established industry best practices and bolsters our long-standing commitment to producing the highest quality, most wholesome and safest pistachios in the world."

Wonderful Pistachios has been growing, harvesting and processing pistachios for 30 years, and this is the first-ever recall associated with this product. "We pride ourselves in our world-class food-safety protocols and processing facilities," the company said. "To-date, we have invested more than $50 million in our food-safety programs, enhanced facility infrastructure, modernized sanitation practices, increased lab testing and validated roasters to minimize the risk of pathogens."

The pistachios, which were distributed through several retailers, food companies and manufacturers in the United States and Canada, can be identified by a 13-digit lot code number that can be found on the lower back or bottom panel of the package.  The specific products and lot codes affected are listed here, and only product with these lot codes is subject to recall.

Florida still in crisis despite increase to orange crop estimate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its estimate of the 2015-16 Florida orange crop increased 3 percent to 71 million, though it is still well below the 96.8 million boxes of oranges produced during the 2014-15 season. A 2 million box rise in Valencias to 35 million accounted for the increase, while early and mid-season varieties stayed at 36 million boxes.

"We are still in a crisis situation right now in regards to battling the HLB disease although this slight increase is welcome good news," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. "We still continue to produce a quality crop in the face of adversity and that's a testament to the resilience of the Florida citrus grower."

The USDA makes its initial estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July.

The USDA's estimate of the 2015-16 Florida grapefruit crop also rose slightly to 10.7 million boxes from 10.5 million. Specialty citrus decreased a fraction to 1.8 million boxes.

Aldi names U.S. co-president

Aldi Inc. has announced that Brent Laubaugh, vice president of its Saxonburg division, has been promoted to co-president of Aldi in the United States, joining David Behm and Chuck Youngstrom, who continue in their roles as co-presidents. All three co-presidents report to Jason Hart, chief executive officer of Aldi.aldi

Laubaugh, whose promotion is effective March 28, has been with Aldi for more than 20 years, holding a variety of roles of increasing responsibility throughout his career.

“Aldi has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the U.S.,” Hart said in a press release. “To support our significant expansion, it was important that we strengthen our leadership team to ensure our success. With the addition of Brent to our team, we have the right leaders in place to continue growing the Aldi business.”

Aldi is in the midst of its accelerated expansion plan that, by the end of 2018, are expected to bring fresh, high-quality groceries at everyday low prices to more than 45 million customers each month. To reach its aggressive goals, Aldi plans to create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses and division offices from coast to coast and invest more than $3 billion to pay for land, facilities and equipment. When completed, Aldi will have nearly 2,000 stores, marking a close to 50 percent increase in only five years.

SpartanNash chairman announces retirement

SpartanNash announced that Craig Sturken will conclude his service as a member of the SpartanNash board of directors at the expiration of his current term. Sturken has served as chairman and a member of the SpartanNash board since November 2013, when Spartan Stores merged with Nash-Finch Co. to form SpartanNash. Prior to the transformational merger, Sturken served as chairman of the Spartan Stores board of directors since 2003.spartan

Sturken served as chief executive officer of Spartan Stores from March 2003 to October 2008 and president of Spartan Stores from March 2003 to October 2007. He spent his entire career in the grocery industry and has more than 50 years of retail grocery experience.

"Throughout his combined tenure, Craig oversaw a period of tremendous growth," SpartanNash President and CEO Dennis Eidson said in a press release. "Craig's leadership helped transform the company from a financially struggling Michigan-based publicly traded company to become the fifth largest food distributor in the nation."

Eidson, who succeeded Sturken as the company's president and CEO, also noted "from 2003 when Craig joined the company through 2015, revenues increased from $2.1 billion to $7.7 billion and market capitalization increased from $50 million to over $1 billion."

Timothy J. O'Donovan, the company's lead independent director, has served with Sturken since both joined the board in 2003. The retired chairman of the board and CEO of Wolverine World Wide Inc. said, "Craig's collaborative leadership, industry knowledge and love for mentoring and continuous improvement were integral to the company's growth and ability to successfully merge and integrate two multi-billion dollar publicly traded companies. He brings the best out in all of us, and it has been an honor to serve with him."

The SpartanNash board of directors nominated Eidson to succeed Sturken. It is anticipated that Eidson will be elected the new chairman of the board of directors following the annual meeting on June 2.

"It has been a privilege to be a part of SpartanNash's growth and transformation and certainly a highlight of my career," Sturken said when announcing his retirement. "I have been fortunate to work with an exceptional board and executive team, and I am now looking forward to traveling and spending more time with my family. This decision has been made much easier, knowing I am turning over the helm to Dennis, a man I have worked side by side with for nearly 20 years."

Dole sued over tainted salad-related outbreak

An Ohio woman has sued Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. on behalf of her 77-year-old mother, who fell into a coma as a result of a packaged salad identified as the cause of a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes.

Constance Georgostathis, the adult daughter of Angeliki Christofield, sued Dole on March 7 in a Cincinnati federal court. This is the first Dole lawsuit filed in Ohio in the Listeria outbreak case.

Health officials started investigating the multistate outbreak in September 2015, but the source of the illnesses wasn’t known until January 2016 when laboratory results from a packaged salad collected in Ohio linked the illnesses to Dole’s Springfield, OH, processing facility.

At least 15 people became infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria in eight states and 11 more cases have been reported in Canada.

Seattle attorney Bill Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark who brought the case, said every patient identified has been hospitalized and four have died.

In January, Dole ceased production of all packaged salads at its Springfield facility and recalled bagged and clamshell packaged salads. On Jan. 28, FDA confirmed it found Listeria in Dole’s packaged salad.

Angeliki Christofield consumed the packaged salad on Jan. 20 or 21, started feeling ill days later and fell into a coma on Jan. 31, the complaint said. Testing by the Ohio Department of Health on the same bag of Dole prepackaged salad mix that Christofield consumed showed that it was positive for Listeria.