PC Organics baby food pouches recalled across Canada due to botulism risk

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is recalling PC Organics baby food pouches due to a possibly deadly bacteria that could form in the food.

Recall expanded after initial announcement earlier this week

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says bacteria could, under certain circumstances, grow in the pouches, leading to botulism. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is recalling PC Organics baby food pouches due to a possibly deadly bacteria that could form in the food.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says the pouches could allow the growth of Clostridium botulinum that can cause botulism.

The recall, triggered by a consumer complaint, was initially announced Feb. 3 and is now being expanded. The products being recalled were sold across Canada up to and including Feb. 8.

 "While the issue relates to a very small subset of products no longer available for sale, in the interest of customer trust, President's Choice welcomes anyone with uncertainty about this product to return it for a full refund," Loblaw said in a statement. "To date, there have been no confirmed illnesses associated with this recall."

But the CFIA says "there have been reported illnesses that may be associated with the consumption of these products," and advises Canadians to call their doctors if they think their babies are sick.

The affected food is sold in pouches and a variety of flavours. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

The agency adds that food contaminated with the toxin may not look or smell spoiled, but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, ingesting contaminated food can cause death.

Loblaw says a manufacturing error resulted in too much water in the product, which can allow the bacteria to grow under certain circumstances.

"Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased," the CFIA said.

The food was sold in the following stores:

  • Ontario: Fortinos, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Valu-mart, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs, Shoppers Drug Mart and affiliated independent stores.
  • Atlantic Canada: Atlantic Superstore, Dominion, Cash&Carry, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Your Independent Grocer, Shoppers Drug Mart and affiliated independent stores.
  • Quebec: Club entrepôt, Maxi, Maxi & Cie, Presto, Provigo, Provigo le Marché, AXEP, Pharmaprix and Intermarché
  • Western Canada: Extra Foods, Loblaws City Market, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Your Independent Grocer, Shoppers Drug Mart and affiliated independent stores.
The pouches are also sold in packs. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

The recall has now expanded to include all flavours of PC Organics strained baby food pouches. Specifically, that would include:

  • PC Organics Apple, Blueberry & Green Pea strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple Crisp Muffin flavour puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple, Carrot, Apricot & Millet strained baby Food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana, Sweet Potato & Blueberry strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple, Banana & Blueberry with Yogurt strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple, Banana & Strawberry with Yogurt strained baby food , 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple Cherry strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Sweet Potato, Apple and Mango strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Peach Maple Cobbler Flavour puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana Apple & Carrot strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Pumpkin, Apple, Peach & Buckwheat strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Prune, Apple, Butternut Squash & Quinoa strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Pear strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Mango, Apple, Carrot & Peach strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Blackberry Cobbler Flavour puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana & Kiwi strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Mango strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana & Raspberry strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana, Apple, Apricot & Rice strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana Bread Flavour puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Pear, Apple and Broccoli strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Sweet Potato, Banana & Apricot strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Tropical Twist Smoothie with Greek Yogurt puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana, Mango & Apple with Yogurt strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Orange Twist Smoothie with Greek Yogurt puree snack, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Prunes strained baby food, 128 ml.
  • PC Organics Apple, Banana & Strawberry with Yogurt strained baby food, 6x128 ml.
  • PC Organics Sweet Potato, Apple and Mango strained baby food, 6x128 ml.
  • PC Organics Banana Apple & Carrot strained baby food, 6x128 ml.
  • PC Organics Mango strained baby food, 6x128 ml.
  • PC Organics Pear, Apple and Broccoli strained baby food, 6x128 ml.

Marvin Ryder, a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, said he thinks the company has thus far done a decent job of handling the recall.

His only criticism is that perhaps the company should have gone with a wider recall when the botulim concern first emerged last week. "When in doubt, go big," he said. Consumers know mistakes will happen, but it's how companies respond to them that determines their long-term view.

'I was a little nervous but I will continue to use them later in the future.' - Grocery shopper Stacey Kelso

Grocery shopper Stacey Kelso of Regina said that so far she's willing to cut the company some slack. "They were really good about it," she told CBC News in an interview after she'd returned some of the baby food in question. "They just returned everything and gave a store credit."

"I was a little nervous but I will continue to use them later in the future," she said.

That's a typical response from consumers, Ryder said, which is good news for Loblaws.

"The sooner you can admit your mistakes," Ryder said, "the better."

"If they take it seriously and do their homework they can win back trust."