USDA Foods Strawberry & Apricot Cup Natural Defect
Out of an abundance of caution the California Department of Education (CDE) Food Distribution Program (FDP) would like to inform recipient agencies about three complaints we received regarding the popular U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods Frozen Strawberry Cup (Item Code 100256) and one complaint we received regarding the USDA Foods Frozen Apricot Cup (Item Code 100261). These complaints are associated with the following product codes printed on the strawberry cup boxes: 7101W, 7101WR, 7102A, and 7102AR; and product codes 6121W and 6123A printed on the apricot boxes. These complaints represent a very small number of USDA Foods strawberry cups and apricot cups received in California this school year.
The FDP understands any unwillingness to serve these strawberry or apricot cups to our students. Any agency that has received the above-mentioned items may donate or destroy the items without additional permission.
Based on the information received, the FDP has filed complaints with the USDA regarding the larva reportedly found in the cups. The FDP has been in direct communication with the USDA about these complaints. Based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, USDA has shared with FDP that these complaints do not meet the FDA standard for recall.
The USDA provided the following information about the defects in frozen strawberries allowed by the FDA:
USDA Foods frozen strawberry cups are examined by USDA inspection staff as they are packaged. The inspection includes not only an examination of the frozen strawberries for defects defined in the U.S. Grade Standards, and specifications, but also for foreign material and unavoidable contamination as described in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Defect Action Levels for Human Food. FDA’s regulations establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no inherent hazards to health. These limits have been established because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring unavoidable defects. The action levels are not intended to cover poor manufacturing practices. The FDA Defect Action Levels (DAL) represent a specific number at which FDA will regard the food product as being adulterated and subject to enforcement action to ensure that contaminated product does not reach the consumer. For frozen berries the insect and larva DAL is an average of 4 or more larva per 500 grams.
Conditions during the growing season, such as location and temperatures can aid and speed up the insect and larva reproduction cycles. The larvae are a hidden defect inside the strawberry. These naturally occurring larva do not pose a health or food safety risk. The USDA’s goal is to provide high quality, nutritious and safe foods and regrets that the USDA foods frozen strawberry cups do not meet expectations.
Since the FDA considers the defects within the allowable range and they do not meet the FDA Defect Action Level, the USDA cannot provide replacement product or provide credit for these items; however, the FDP understands any unwillingness to serve these strawberry or apricot cups to our students and any agency that received the cups listed above may donate or destroy the items without additional permission.
Last, we strongly encourage all participants to continue to file USDA Foods complaints with us when they receive USDA Foods that do not meet expectations.
If you have questions about this resource, please contact the USDA Food Distribution Program by email at USDAFoods@usda.gov.