Manda ready to distribute meat products

Manda Fine Meats’ deli and specialty meat products will return to store shelves this weekend, the company said Friday, and the Baton Rouge firm expects its distribution will be close to normal levels within a few weeks.

Three weeks ago, Manda pulled nearly 490,000 pounds of its products made at its Baker plant from store shelves because of possible contamination with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture found the bacteria in a sample of cooked roast beef at a retail establishment April 5.

For now, Manda is producing its roast beef, ham, turkey breast, hog head cheese, corned beef and pastrami at alternative facilities approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Baker plant, which usually produces those items, remains idle.

The company’s Baton Rouge plant and the sausage products made there were not affected by the recall.

Manda said it has not received any reports of listeriosis related to the recall.

Food contaminated with the bacterium can cause a serious infection known as listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease more harmful to older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems, according to the USDA.

The recall affected shipments to Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Manda Chief Executive Officer Bobby Yarborough was out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment, according to its public relations firm, Harris Devukke & Associates. He and other company officials had not responded to phone calls since midweek.

In a news release Friday, Yarborough said the company greatly appreciates its customers’ support.

Manda has made safe, wholesome products for 66 years, he said, and the company will continue to do so.

Manda said its investigation and environmental study looked at 171 samples from the Baker plant. The study found the facility was “extremely clean” but one sample was a potential concern, according to the company.

“Making sure our facilities go above and beyond industry food safety standards is a priority for Manda Fine Meats,” Yarborough said in the news release. “One questionable sample is one too many.”

Manda said it has moved its Baker employees to other areas within the company. Although some minimal cuts in workers’ hours are expected, Manda will continue to “aggressively work” toward its goal of keeping its employees.

USDA officials could
not be reached for comment this week about the Manda recall.