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Botulism Leads to Recall of Pesto and Other Sauces

A couple of the recalled products
A couple of the recalled products

In case you were getting all worked up about ebola, we’ve got something a little closer to home to worry about: A local produce company has voluntarily recalled several of its products after two cases of food-borne botulism were reported, according to the California Department of Public Health. That’s right, freakin’ botulism, and not the Botox kind!

California health officials are warning consumers to stay away from various VR Green Farms' jarred food products after two cases of suspected food-borne botulism infections possibly linked to the company’s pine nut basil pesto were reported, according to a statement released Wednesday. The products may have been “improperly produced,” according to the agency.

The paralytic illness can have deadly consequences. The nerve toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria is odorless and tasteless, making it hard to detect food contamination, according to the public health department. Initial symptoms following infection include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids and a dry or sore throat.

San Clemente-based VR Green Farms has voluntarily recalled the aforementioned pesto, pickled farm mix, Old World tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, Tuscan grilling sauce and pasta sauce. All of the products were sold under the VR Green Farms label and packaged in Mason-style glass jars with metal lids at stands in San Clemente and on the internet to consumers throughout the United States. There are no "use by" dates or UPC codes. Photos of the recalled products can be found here

The suspect products have already been pulled from the website of the company, which describes itself as "like a CSA, and we have an Old World approach to growing and cooking our vegetables, herbs, and fruit. We plant Italian fava beans every full moon because the gravitational pull of the moon is the strongest then." 

In a joint effort, the CDPH, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Ohio Department of Health are coordinating an investigation into the two suspected food-borne botulism infections.

Health officials say anyone with these products should discard them immediately by double-bagging the jars in plastic bags and throwing them away in the trash – do not try to wash the jars for recycling, and do not try to inject the contents into your forehead. They also advise consumers to wear gloves when handling the possibly contaminated products and to wash your hands with soap and running water after handling.

If anyone observes the products listed being sold they should report it to the CDPH at 800-495-3232.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t trust hipsters with the canning!


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