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Food bank frozen blueberries recalled

The federal Food and Nutrition Service is recalling frozen blueberries distributed through the Oregon Food Bank because of a complaint regarding foreign material in one 3-pound bag.

Food bank spokeswoman Jean Kempe-Ware said the recall involves about 17,000 pounds of blueberries, of which some 2,000 pounds were shipped to ACCESS Food Share in Medford.

Kempe-Ware said she had not been informed about the exact nature of the foreign material that prompted the recall.

She stressed the recall did not involve contamination associated with food borne illnesses, such as salmonella or e-coli.

Philip Yates, manager of ACCESS Food Share, said he received notice of the recall last Friday, and all the suspect blueberries have been pulled from shelves.

They will be held at ACCESS until word comes from the Oregon Food Bank about how to dispose of them.

Yates said he could not say how many bags of blueberries may have been distributed to local food pantries or distributed to clients.

The Oregon Food Bank distributed some of the blueberries in April in clear 3-pound plastic bags marked only with a with a small date stamp.

If the stamp reads "2009 APR 8," the blueberries should be destroyed or returned, Kempe-Ware said.

Yates said local food pantries have been notified and letters explaining the recall will go into all new food boxes that will be distributed.

The Food and Nutrition Service said it does not believe there are more problems in the lots produced in the two days of production that are in question, but has asked the vendor to pick up the remaining berries.

Kempe-Ware said the blueberries were produced by Cherryfield Foods, of Cherryfield, Maine, and were distributed to food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com.