South Carolina agriculture inspectors have barred a Chester facility from temporarily producing or selling any more food after potentially dangerous bacteria was discovered in pimento cheese spread produced there
The state Department of Agriculture (SCDA) said Thursday it revoked a Registration Verification Certificate (RVC) for B&H Foods after inspectors discovered Listeria monocytogenes in some of the company’s finished product. B&H is prohibited from producing, distributing and selling any products until its RVC has been reinstated.
“Listeria monocytogenes was found at the plant and in finished product,” SCDA spokeswoman Stephanie Sox said in an email. “There is zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.”Sox said inspectors found no management or institutional control over sanitation, quality assurance, or production at the Chester facility. She said regulators also found “positive results throughout the facility, including the production room,” while inspecting B&H. Sox said those results combined with previous infractions led the agency to revoke the permit.
B&H Foods produces pimento cheese spreads for Charlotte-based Ruth’s Salads. An initial recall of Ruth’s Original Pimento Cheese Spread was issued last week after random testing by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture found traces of Listeria monocytogenes. That recall has now been expanded to cover all lots and ‘Sell by Dates’ for Ruth’s products labeled as “Packed by B&H Foods, Inc., Chester, SC.” These products include:
Product Size UPC
Ruth’s Original Pimento Spread 7 oz. 74952-00005
Ruth’s Original Pimento Spread 12 oz. 74952-12023
Ruth’s Original Pimento Spread 24 oz. 74952-24023
Ruth’s Old Fashion Pimento Spread 16 oz. 74952-15005
Ruth’s Jalapeno Pimento Spread 12 oz. 74952-12014
Ruth’s Lite Pimento Spread 12 oz. 74952-12000
Ruth’s Cream Cheese w/Pineapple-Pecans 74952-12008
Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Products labeled as “Packed in Charlotte, NC” are not included in this recall.
Regulators say they are not aware of any illnesses linked to the spread. Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weaker immune systems, such as young children or elderly consumers. Healthy victims can suffer fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
South Carolina food safety inspectors are performing recall audit checks at stores and distribution centers known to carry the affected products.