April 1, 2024

Carrot juice recalled because of botulism concerns

Carrot juice from Barsotti Juice Co. has been recalled because of concerns about under processing that could lead to botulism.

On Jan. 30, the Food and Drug Administration sent the Camino, California-headquartered company a warning letter detailing multiple problems at its juice processing facility, including violations of juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations and current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food standards.

A recall announced Feb. 22 covers 11,499 cases of product distributed in California, Connecticut, Texas, Washington, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Virginia and Arizona.

Affected products include 16-ounce Barsotti Organic Carrot Juice and 64-ounce plastic bottles, along with Trader Joe’s 100% Juice Organic Carrot Juice 16-ounce and 32-ounce plastic bottles. The code information is: Organic Carrot Juice Lot Codes/Best By dates LC-24-025 2/22/2024, LC-24-030 2/27/2024, LC-24-032 2/29/2024, LC-24-037 03/05/2024, LC-24-039 03/07/2024, LC-24-044 03/12/2024, LC-24-046 03/14/2024, LC-24-051 03/19/2024.

several orange carrots with green tops on table
Carrot juice from Barsotti Juice Co. has been recalled because of concerns about under processing. ©volff, 123RF Free Images

A three-day inspection of the California facility, on Nov. 20 and 21 and Dec. 1, 2023, found, among other violations, that Barsotti’s organic carrot juice “has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health,” according to the FDA warning letter.

The inspection also found that the facility’s HAACP plan did not include control measures to consistently produce a 5-log reduction in Clostridium botulinum, which can produce botulism under low-oxygen conditions. A 5-log reduction means inactivating 99.999% of a microbe or colony forming units (a measure of viable bacterial or fungal numbers or counts also known as CFUs).

Botulism attacks the body’s nerves and causes weakness of the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth and throat, causing difficulty breathing. This weakness may spread to the neck, arms, torso and legs, resulting in muscle paralysis and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barsotti provided a challenge study and written response to the violations found in the inspection. The FDA deemed both “inadequate.”

“Your challenge study does not provide scientific rationale and sufficient data to demonstrate that C. botulinum is not a hazard in your carrot juice,” according to the warning letter. “Historical outbreak data demonstrates that C. botulinum is the pertinent microorganism in refrigerated carrot juice.”

The FDA said consumers should throw away or return the affected products and not consume the juice even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

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