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Whole Foods Mixes Up Chicken, Vegan Salads

Products Were Sold In 15 Stores Across Northeast

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Whole Foods Market Inc. said that labels on a chicken salad and those on a vegan version were reversed at some of its cold food bars in the Northeast.

The mislabeled salads — a curried chicken salad and a vegan curried “chick’n” salad — were sold in 15 stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, Whole Foods said.

In some locations, the company said the salads were sold in the cold food bars where customers can scoop food into containers, which are then weighed at the register. In other locations, it said the salads were displayed in the prepared food sections behind glass. The salads were sold on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The FDA said the mistake could have caused a severe, even deadly allergic reaction, CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported.

“I have a son who has allergies really bad and he would have been affected by that,” one woman told Dardashtian.

“If I opened that and started eating the chicken that would be so bad for me,” Janice Oliver, who has been a vegan for 25 years, told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

Libba Letton, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, said the salads were mislabeled at a company-owned commissary that supplies food to the stores.

She said the mix-up was discovered by an employee in the prepared food section at one of its stores. Whole Foods is issuing a recall in line with guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration and plans to post signs in stores Friday alerting customers about the mislabeled salads, she said.

The FDA noted the vegan salad contains soy and the curried chicken salad contains egg. It said people who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy or eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they eat the salads.

“That’s a big mistake,” Manhattan resident Judith Hartmann told Dardashtian. “I can see how it can happen though, in a huge place like this where they are mass-producing food.”

Click here to read the FDA’s recall notice.

The products were sold at the following store locations:

  • Darien, Conn.
  • Fairfield, Conn.
  • West Hartford, Conn.
  • Portland, Maine
  • Framingham, Mass.
  • Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Mass.
  • Milburn-Union, New Jersey
  • Montclair, New Jersey
  • Rose City-Madison, New Jersey
  • West Orange, New Jersey
  • Jericho, New York
  • Lake Grove, New York
  • Manhasset, New York
  • Columbus Circle in New York City
  • Upper West Side in New York City

“Once I’m used to eating something, I don’t really read the labels. I just eat it,” Hoboken resident Reba Kahn told Dardahstian. “So I’m a little more skeptical now.”

The company, based in Austin, Texas, said no illnesses have been reported. According to the Whole Foods website, several products are recalled every month.

Costumers who purchased the salads from Whole Foods can return it to the store for a full refund. Consumers with questions should contact their local store or call 617-492-5500 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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