Bumble Bee Foods Accident Prompts Nationwide Tuna Recall Amid Fears Of Death

Thinking of tuna salad for lunch? In a March 16 press release, Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, announced a nationwide tuna recall of its chunk light tuna product that affects three specific UPC codes, reported the FDA. The tuna recall reportedly came after accidental process deviations that could cause serious contamination and occurred at a co-pack facility that is not actually owned or operated by Bumble Bee Foods.

Although there are currently no known reports of illness associated with these products, the company announced that more than 31,500 cases of tuna are affected by the product recall. In the release, Bumble Bee Foods also acknowledged the accident could potentially turn deadly and that the affected products have already been distributed nationally in the U.S.
"These deviations were part of the commercial sterilization process and could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens, which could lead to life-threatening illness if consumed."
The Bumble Bee Foods canned tuna products that are subject to this recall were produced in February 2016 and are marked with a can code that starts with a "T." The recall affects 5oz Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Water with "Best By" dates of 2/10/2019; 2/16/2019; 2/17/2019; 2/18/2019; 2/22/2019 and 2/23/2019, as well as 5oz Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil with a "Best By" date of 2/23/19. Four packs of 5oz Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Water with "Best By" dates of 2/9/19; 2/10/19; 2/22/19 and 2/29/19 are also affected by yesterday's product recall.

According to WDRB in Louisville, Kentucky, the processing accident was discovered during a routine quality audit by the packer and the cans of affected chunk white tuna were "under processed," a misstep that could lead to serious illness and even death if the tuna is consumed. The company is reportedly working with the packer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove the recalled products from stores nationwide.

Bumble Bee Foods Tuna Processing Accident Prompts Nationwide Product Recall
[Photo by AP Photo/Bullit Marquez]According to NBC News, the recall comes after Bumble Bee Foods detected "improper sterilization" at a third-party packing facility. The location of that facility has not been named.

"This recall is being initiated out of an abundance of caution due to the possible under-processing of the affected products," Bumble Bee revealed in its product recall notice.

The recall comes just months after the company was ordered to pay $6 million and pled guilty to criminal charges last August in the case of a 62-year-old employee who was cooked to death inside a Bumble Bee Foods industrial oven more than three years ago, according to KTLA 5 News.

"Saul Florez of Whittier, Bumble Bee's former safety manager, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony count of willfully violating lockout tagout rules and proximately causing the victim's death."
In that incident, the victim's family reportedly received $1.5 million of the settlement payout, and San Diego-based Bumble Bee is required to spend $3 million to replace outdated tuna ovens with video cameras installed. Managers and workers will also be required to undergo additional safety training. The company also paid $750,000 in fees, penalties and court costs, along with $750,000 to the DA's Environmental Enforcement Fund to help pay for the investigation of OSHA criminal cases.

For more information about the tuna recall or to request product reimbursement, consumers are asked to contact Bumble Bee Foods at 888-820-1947 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST or visit Bumble Bee's recall page.

[Image via Bumble Bee Foods]