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Astoria food distributor recalls whitefish packages

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An Astoria distributor of kosher spreads, salads and dips has recalled 7-ounce packages of smoked whitefish salad that may be contaminated with the potentially deadly Listeria bacterium.

The recall, by Blue & White Food Products of 24-20 49th St,. came after routine sampling June 19 by state inspectors detected Listeria in some containers of Sabra smoked whitefish salad, said the company's president, Yehuda Pearl. The affected containers bear the product code 071803.

Customers who bought the recalled product can return it at the place of purchase for a full refund.

Listeria causes high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea in healthy people and can sometimes cause deadly infections in children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Pearl said Blue & White makes more than 50 varieties of spreads, salads and dips, with fish products constituting only a small portion of those.

"The fish line is an insignificant line," Pearl said, "so small it wouldn't bother me to cut if out completely."

He said that was a distinct possibility in light of the recent problem and the high susceptibility of fish to Listeria and other problems.

But one supermarket that carries the Sabra line of whitefish salad, Key Food on 69th Avenue in Forest Hills, had no plans to switch suppliers in light of the recall.

"We've had a lot of success with Sabra over the past years," said Philip Ferrante, the store's director of operations. "They're a pretty good company, and in the kosher community they are regarded pretty well."

Ferrante said one case of Listeria was not enough to change store policy, adding that several reputable companies had had isolated incidents. He said, however, that a second problem with the same company would certainly be cause for concern.

Pearl pointed out that the United States' standards for Listeria were far more strict than those of other developed nations.

"In other countries, these numbers would be fine," he said.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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