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Schwebel Bakery finds listeria, withdraws some products

Published: Wed, July 23, 2014 @ 12:01 a.m.


The Schwebel Baking Co. on Midlothian Boulevard on Tuesday voluntarily halted production and withdrew some products from the marketplace.




An investigation continues to determine the extent of a bacteria that had Schwebel Baking Co. halt production and voluntarily withdraw certain products from the marketplace in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The bacteria – a strain of listeria – was found during a routine environmental assessment of the Youngstown bakery.

Listeria is a naturally occurring bacteria that can be found in any place where there is an accumulation of moisture. Some forms can cause infections in young children, the elderly and others with weakened immune systems. Other forms are benign.

It was discovered after a positive test for the bacteria came back, and the Food and Drug Administration was informed Tuesday, said Ashley McDonald, public relations officer for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Consumers can identify the products affected by the code located near the bottom of the best-buy date.

“If the code begins with the letter ‘A,’ the product is a part of the voluntary withdrawal,” a company release said. “Anyone who has products in their possession that are part of the voluntary withdrawal should not consume them and should discard them or return them to where they were purchased.”

McDonald said the swabs that tested positive for the bacteria were not in “areas where food was.”

“So far, we have no indication it is in the product,” McDonald said. “[The company] has been very proactive.”

“Although there is no evidence at this point that any of our consumers or products have been impacted, we are taking this action as a precautionary measure to assure that our products are safe,” said Paul Schwebel, company president.

The FDA, the primary organization working with the bakery, would not comment further, but did say “it’s an ongoing investigation.”

In addition to the voluntary withdrawal of products, the company ­— which has been in existence since 1906 — also placed all products prepared for shipment on hold.

The company operates four bakeries in Ohio, and Youngstown is the only bakery impacted by this event.

On Tuesday, production was halted at the Midlothian Boulevard bakery, said Vince Bevacqua, company spokesman.

“We don’t know when [production] will resume,” Bevacqua said Tuesday evening.

He said there have been no layoffs in terms of the workforce while the company works with the FDA, saying the company “found [employees] other work to do.”

There have been listeria recalls this year in a number of products including fruit, lettuce, cheese, ham, peanut butter, chicken, salsa, hummus, ice cream and seafood, according to Listeria Blog, a website that tracks listeria recalls.

A recent recall due to listeria that gained national attention was issued by Wawona Packing Co. of Cutler, Calif. The company voluntarily recalled certain lots of peaches, nectarines and plums packed between June 1 and July 12.

Some of the companies affected by this national recall included Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Trader Joe’s and Costco.

Listeria Blog lists a total of 24 listeria-related recalls this year, and only one related to bread.

The bread recall occurred involving Federated Co-operatives Ltd., a Canadian company, on March 21 and included the company’s garlic bread and garlic/cheese bread, along with Market Town Co-op Pizza Bread products.

Testing for listeria is common in bread, biscuits and similar products.

A study published in the journal Food Control stated that bread-feeding machines, slicers, conveyor belts and water hosts are areas of a plant at risk for listeria contamination.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women, according to the FDA.

Schwebel is directing consumers to call them directly at 1-800-860-2867 if they have been affected by the products or to visit the company’s website for more information at schwebels.com.

Contributor: Burton Speakman, staff writer.


1Askmeificare(1167 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The schwebel baking company recalls are getting more and more serious.

Unfortunately the Vindicator author, Hall, chooses to seemingly group cases of Listeria, a very serious form of bacteria, as almost common in industry.

The author, I believe, has forgotten that schwebels baking company serves our community, and many others, and must not downplay the harsh realities of individuals with weakened immune systems may die if ingesting schwebels bread affected with this Listeria.

Additionally, the author seemingly has neglected to more informative with regards that schwebel baking company manufactures bread under the giant eagle brand name as well as others, as reported by CBS News Pittsburgh.

With a situation as very, very serious as this is, I would have expected the Vindicator and reporter K. Hall, to be MORE informative to the readers it is inherently serving and less 'mafia ring kissing' to the corporations that purchase advertising.

Because I seemingly cannot trust Vindicator reporting on local food recall issues and the duplicity of the schwebel baking company bread recalls, from now on for my family and I, it's Nickels Bread Products.

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2walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The article was informative and well-written. I don't see any duplicity. First, and most importantly, the bacteria was found in non-production areas through routine testing by swabbing. There are no reports of food poisoning that would have been much worse. Listeria contamination in products that are heated, such as bread, are not very common like those in fruit and vegetables, which are consumed raw. SChwebel's is a good local company that produces good products and treats its employees pretty good. And, if you are surprised that they baked Giant Eagle bread, then you would be amazed at just whom they actually produce private label products for. ALL private label products are produced under contract with large companies. Do you really think Giant Eagle has its own bakery for bread, or chicken for eggs, or dairy farms for milk and cheese?

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3scheetz(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Schwebels serves several states as mentioned and they did explain Listeria and ask for anyone affected to call. You act like they were trying to cover something up.This happens everywhere nationwide- meat, peanut butter (remember ANYTHING with peanut butter, even ice cream with ripples in it had to be checked or thrown out?)

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4DwightK(1535 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The article is informative and it doesn't seem like anything is being covered up. Schwebels appears to be doing all the correct things, such as self reporting. I hope no one is ill and that Schwebels can move on after they've fixed the problem.

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5JoeFromHubbard(1768 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I'll bet that all of the fear-mongers would be horrified if the FDA took a few swabs in their kitchens.

Bacteria are a part of our environment and practically inescapable.

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6billdog1(5771 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Some people just have to have something to criticize. Their like little children that didn't get the toy so they criticizes everybody else's toy.

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7james3177(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

As a contractor who has worked at many bakery locations across the United States.. Schewbels sanitary standards are impeccable! I've worked for all the major bakeries and Schewbels facilities are by far cleaner than them all. You can eat off the floors they are fanatical when it comes to sanitation!. I'm sure they are hard at work fixing this problem I wont hesitate to buy their product when they are back up and running.This company has been around along time without one recall. That does not happen by coincidence

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