Food Recall Resource

FDA Recall of Whole Foods Pesto over Undisclosed Allergen

Organic foods giant, Whole Foods Market, issued a recall of prepared pesto products on June 7, 2019.  According to the FDA recall notice the pesto contains undeclared allergens which could potentially cause deadly allergic reactions.

Whole Foods makes basil pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto in-house and sells it at their antipasti counters.  Like all prepared food, the pesto containers must bear a label detailing and disclosing any allergens. The product that is the subject of this FDA recall contains undeclared milk and tree nuts, specifically walnuts and pine nuts.

Consumers who are allergic, or even sensitive, to nuts and dairy could have a potentially serious allergic reaction if they were to consume the recalled products.

How to Identify Pesto in this FDA Recall

Without the correct allergens listed on the nutritional label, consumers must be careful when purchasing Whole Foods pesto products.  The products subject to the recall should already have been pulled from store shelves, but may still be in people’s homes.

Here is what we know about the pesto products in this FDA recall:

  • Products were available for purchase between May 17, 2019 and June 4, 2019.
  • The recalled pesto was sold in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
  • Pesto was packaged in clear plastic containers with a sell-by date ranging from June 7, 2019 to June 26, 2019.

If you have purchased any Whole Foods pesto that matches this description, you should not consume it.  Whole Foods became aware of the problem of the undisclosed allergen because at least one consumer reported a serious allergic reaction.  A wider investigation revealed large numbers of prepared pesto products contained undisclosed diary and tree nut allergens, which prompted Whole Foods to issue this FDA recall.

If you have an allergy to dairy or tree nuts and have purchased this pesto, Whole Foods will issue a full refund.  Consumers who have additional questions and would like to talk to Whole Foods about the recall can reach the company at 1-844-936-8255.

Mandatory Disclosure of Allergens

Though this FDA recall was voluntary, Whole Foods did not truly have a choice.  Tree nuts are one of the eight major allergens that, according to federal law, must be listed on packaged foods when they are sold in the United States.  The other allergens that must be disclosed are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybean

Though only four percent of the American population has food allergies, that small percentage still represents millions of people.   An allergy to nuts is among the most common food allergies for both children and adults.

FDA recall, tree nuts

Allergic Reactions to Tree Nuts

Tree nut allergies are distinct from legume (peanut) allergies or seed (sesame or sunflower seed) allergies.  Tree nuts include:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios

Anyone with a tree nut allergy can experience a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.  What is worse is that allergic reactions can be very unpredictable, even for long-established allergy sufferers.  Consequently, even small amounts of tree nuts can cause anaphylaxis.

Most physicians recommend tree nut allergy sufferers to keep epinephrine with them at all times because it is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis.   For the vast majority of Americans, the presence of milk or walnut in prepared pesto will present no problem at all, but the FDA requires allergen disclosure to protect the small percentage of people for whom these food allergies can be and sometimes are fatal.

Avoiding Tree Nuts

For allergy sufferers to prevent a life-threatening reaction, it is very important that they avoid tree nuts and all tree nut products.  This can be harder than it may initially seem to someone who is unaccustomed to checking product labels for the presence of allergens.

Being diagnosed with one type of tree nut allergy makes allergy sufferers more likely to be allergic to other types of tree nuts and to develop new allergies at any time.  For this reason, many medical professionals recommend people with tree nut allergies to avoid all nuts at all times.  People with tree nut allergies are often advised to avoid peanuts also because of the risk of cross-contamination in processing facilities that handle both types of nuts.

Unexpected Sources of Tree Nuts

When tree nuts cause an allergic reaction, it is actually the protein to which sufferers are reacting.   Tree nut proteins can show up in some surprising places like breakfast cereal, crackers, cookies, candies, chocolate, granola bars, flavored coffee, marinades, and BBQ sauces.

Of particular concern are beauty products and alcoholic beverages because both can contain tree nuts without having a legal requirement to disclose the allergen on their label.

Some restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream parlors are high-risk places for people who suffer from a tree nut allergy.  There is a high risk of cross-contact because of the nuts used in the preparation of many dishes.  Restaurant cuisines to avoid if you have a severe nut allergy include:

  • Chinese
  • African
  • Indian
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese

If you love eating these types of food, it is best for you to cook them at home rather than risk contamination in a restaurant.

FDA Recall Could Spark Legal Action

To be in compliance with federal law, Whole Foods should have disclosed the milk and tree nuts present in their pesto product.  Despite their voluntary FDA recall, they remain liable for any injury or illness that arises from exposure to these allergens.  Americans with food allergies should certainly be able to rely on responsible food packaging. However, for millions of Americans the reliance on accurate disclosure from food producers has been misplaced.

Considering the risk to human life, the number of times companies issue an FDA recall for undisclosed allergens is truly staggering.  Victims have the right to make a legal claim when undisclosed allergies make them sick or threaten their life.

Learn More about the FDA Recall and Your Legal Rights

If you or someone you love has suffered anaphylaxis after eating a product that contained an undisclosed allergen, you may have a legal claim.  Such a claim could hold responsible the party who failed to properly label the product.  Furthermore, a legal claim could provide much needed compensation for your expenses related to your illness.

Learn more about the FDA recall and your legal rights by contacting Bad Food Recall. Call 1-877-534-5750 today to schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals.  You can also contact us online to get started.



How can we help you?