In spite of all the ice cream recalls this year, we can at least relax on a hot summer day with a cold bottle of water sans worries…right? Hold that thought a moment. Niagara Bottling, LLC announced June 22 that it is recalling all of its water products bottled at two Pennsylvania plants between 3 a.m. EST June 10 and 8 p.m. EST June 18, due to E. coli contamination (E. coli can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting, and is especially hard on people who already have weak immune systems). Wait a minute…they’re recalling WATER now? Is anything in our supermarkets safe anymore? Addressing that question, Lisa Moskovitz, RD, founder of the New York Nutrition Group, believes that our grocery stores are as safe as ever, stating that, “The FDA has just become more and more diligent on detecting these types of contaminants, and then protecting consumers by spreading the news as fast as possible.” Not to mention that news spreads even faster in the age of social media and 24-hour news programs. So, the upshot of the FDA statement is, with more efficient testing procedures, in some cases, using technology that didn’t exist even a few years ago, the FDA is simply catching more problems. Consumers who hear of a recalled food product should immediately check product codes on these products in their cupboards and refrigerators. If they do have some of the recalled items on hand, they should take them back to the point of purchase for a refund. Now, back to Niagara Bottling.
The recall affects two bottling plants, one in Allentown and the other in Hamburg. The bottles were sold at Wegman’s, a popular supermarket chain in the Northeast, at 7-11 stores, and a few other distribution chains. The recall so far encompasses only 11 states: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, and the bottled water in question was sold under 14 brands: Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-11, Niagara, Nature’s Place, Pricerite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, Shoprite, Western Beef Blue and Wegman’s. While it’s unlikely that any of the affected products made it this far south, if readers do run across one of the recalled brands, here’s how to check the product code on the bottle: the code line contains the place, date and time the bottle was filled. Affected products begin with either an “A” for Allentown or “F” for Hamburg. The next digit is the product line number, followed by the date, written as date, month, year (example: 10JUN15). The last four digits are the time of day, based on the 24-hour clock. As an example, 8 a.m. would be 0800, and 8 p.m., 2000. Here is a sample code line – A610JUN15 2000 – meaning this bottle was produced in Allentown, line 6, June 10, 2015 at 8 p.m., and thus falls within the recall window as outlined in the third paragraph.
So, is your bottled water safe? Probably, in this part of the country, since no problems have been reported with regional bottling companies. But since even bottled water isn’t immune from problems, food safety is important to keep in mind during hot summer days with its attendant summer picnics and family gatherings, especially with the 4th of July holiday coming up. Almost everyone knows the drill by now. When preparing food, raw meats, fish and poultry should be kept separate from fruits, vegetables and other foods. Surfaces should be disinfected and hands washed frequently with hot soapy water. Hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods kept cold, and nothing should be allowed to sit out more than two hours. For more safety tips, check out websites like http://www.foodsafety.gov or solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/families_and_consumers/food_safety/.