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Tea Recall

This message/discussion was started as a part of my network from World Tea News. Thought enough to share with you all. It’s reprinted in its entirety….

Dianna Harbin • Using my training from the “Day Job”, I have this to contribute to the discussion:

Teavana and RemedyTeas both voluntarily recalled their peppermint tisanes due to batch testing after notification from their vendor about possible Salmonella contamination. Unfortunately, the peppermint had already reached market from November 30, 2010 to November 30, 2010 for Teavana and from January 18, 2011 to March 4, 2011 for RemedyTeas. The Metropolitan Tea Company (Canada) has recalled its peppermint sold since December 25, 2010. David’s Tea of Montreal has recalled it’s peppermint. Producs often reach market before contamination is detected.

RemedyTeas did use some of the peppermint in a blend. But they only recalled 20 lbs of peppermint and blend altogether. Teavanna recalled 2,659 lbs. All companies used organic peppermint from the same source, Aromatics Inc., of Basin City, Washington.

No illnesses were reported, probably due to the fact that temperatures as low as 150 F can kill Salmonella. This is a very low temperature for hot steeping so most everyone who made hot tisanes would be at low risk. RemeyTeas was suggesting steeping at 205 F.

Cold infused contaminated peppermint and contaminated peppermint used as an herb on cold foods, e.g., salads, might cause illness if enough organism is present.

Normal stomach acidity kills a large percentage of Salmonella. People who medically reduce their stomach acid, the immune-compromised, the very young and the elderly are at higher risk for Salmonella infection.

I found no documentation on the USFDA site as to if it was fresh, frozen or dried peppermint specimens that were tested. I also did not find out when or how the vendor discovered the contamination.

In many cases, for fresh produce, it is animal or human (humans can be carriers) fecal-contaminated irrigation water or final rinse water on fresh produce (herb in this case) that is the contamination source.

Since the peppermint would have been rinsed with cool water, the Salmonella could survive but they would not multiply significantly on the peppermint once it is dry. Those organisms that do survive dry herb storage, hot brewing water and stomach acids could multiply in the human intestines and then release endotoxins. It only takes a couple hundred surviving organisms or less to cause illness. You cannot see or detect that small number of organisms.

The endotoxins and cellular damage caused by the growing bacteria cause the illness symptoms.

Prevention is good manufacturing practices, including good employee hygiene, using clean water, using sterilized organic fertilizers, avoiding cross-contamination from dirty work surfaces and tools and clean storage techniques.

And yes, other blends and tisanes may be involved but not voluntarily recalled so know your source’s sources.

Dianna Harbin
Certified Tea Specialist (Specialty Tea Institue of TeaUSA)
Licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist, MT/CLS
Certified Public Health Microbiologist (California State)

References:

Teavana Corporation Voluntarily Recalls Peppermint Organic Herbal Tea
Because of Possible Health Risk at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm246103.htm

REMEDYTEAS Voluntarily Recalls Peppermint Organic Herbal Tea And Organic Herbal Tea Blend Because Of Possible Health Risk at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm246318.htm

[The Metropolitan Tea Company] ORGANIC PEPPERMINT HERBAL TEA RECALLED BY AROMATICS INC., USA MAY CONTAIN SALMONELLA BACTERIA by Canadian Food Inspection Agency at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2011/20110309e.shtml

[David’s Tea, Montreal, QC] ORGANIC PEPPERMINT HERBAL TEA RECALLED BY AROMATICS INC., USA MAY CONTAIN SALMONELLA BACTERIA by Canadian Food Inspection Agency at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2011/20110314e.shtml

Salmonella, by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/

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