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Crookston, Minn., plant recalls sunflower seeds after listeria link found

CROOKSTON, Minn. - A Crookston sunflower seed producer has suspended production and is voluntarily recalling some packaged sunflower kernels after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked potential listeria monocytogenes to the Crookston plant.

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CROOKSTON, Minn. - A Crookston sunflower seed producer has suspended production and is voluntarily recalling some packaged sunflower kernels after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked potential listeria monocytogenes to the Crookston plant.

The products are:

Dakota’s Best Biggy’z Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels, 16 oz., Lot No. FEB-11-17C2, with a Best By Date of Feb. 11, 2017; and

Planters Sunflower Kernels, 3 oz., Lots No. 7065A3, 7065B3 and 7065C3, with a Best By Date of March 6, 2017; 7066A3, 7066B3 and 7066C3, with a Best By Date of March 7, 2017; and 7067A3, 7067B3 and 7067C3, with a Best By Date of March 8, 2017.

The products were produced at SunOpta’s Crookston plant between Feb. 1 and Feb. 19.  

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They were sent to distribution centers in North Dakota and Illinois between Feb. 22 and Feb. 25. They may have been redistributed to other states.

The Crookston plant, which remains open, shut down production April 21, said Rob Litt, the company’s director of global communications.

“We’re working through the issues, working with the FDA,” he said. “We expect to resume operations as soon as we work through those issues.”  

The Crookston plant has about 100 employees.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, the FDA said.

No illnesses have been reported.

The FDA is urging consumers not to eat the products, but rather return them to the stores where the purchases were made for refunds, or to discard them. Consumers with questions are being asked to contact the company by email at  contactus@sunopta.com  or to call (800) 237-4374 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Retailers and wholesalers are being asked to check their inventories and shelves to confirm the products are no longer available.  

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“SunOpta was contacted by a single customer reporting contamination by listeria monocytogenesin roasted sunflower kernel product produced in our Crookston facility,” Litt said. “This complaint did not involve an illness, and we are not aware of any consumer issues due to consumption of this product.”

Toronto-based SunOpta operates 28 plants, including 23 in the United States. The U.S. headquarters is in Edina, Minn.

The company has six production facilities in Minnesota, including two in Alexandria, and one each in Crookston, Moorhead, Breckenridge and Hope.

It also operates facilities in Wahpeton and Grace City, N.D.

“The quality and safety of the food we produce and the ingredients we provide are the highest priority for us,” the company said in prepared statement about the recall. “Therefore, we are voluntarily recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.

“We have isolated the production window to a short timeframe and are working with the FDA and customers to control and dispose of affected product. We are aware of one customer complaint that did not involve an illness, and we are not aware of any consumer issues due to consumption of this product.”

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