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Grocery Health Recalls

Stone Fruits At Costco, Walmart And Aldi Are Being Recalled For Listeria

Peaches, plums and nectarines that were imported from Chile are being recalled at various retailers across the country due to a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Photo: Liz West // Flickr, CC 2.0

According to a press release from the FDA, the stone fruits were distributed by Jac. Vandenberg, Inc. in New York, to stores like Walmart, Costco, and ALDI. The cause of the Listeria contamination is currently unknown, but is being investigated after a routine sample check at the company’s packing house tested positive for the pathogen.

While Listeria contamination is typically associated with processed meats and fresh cheeses, it’s not uncommon for the bacteria to get into soil and water and get into nearby-growing produce. Healthy individuals usually only suffer from typical food poisoning symptoms, but the infection can be serious for young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Listeria is also known to cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Below is a table the FDA posted showing the full list of states, retailers, and fruits affected by the recall:

At Costco and ALDI, the fruits were packaged under the brand “Rio Duero,” and all of the peaches and nectarines have a Chilean country of origin label (COOL).

So far, no poisonings have been reported yet, but if your fruit is part of the affected batch, it should not be consumed. The FDA is urging those who have bought any recalled produce to return it to the story they bought it for a full refund.

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#foodbeast Cravings Grocery Hacks Products

5 Aldi Items That Will Up Your Holiday Party Game

For me, the idea of having a holiday party is always more fun than actually hosting it. I get all wrapped up in trying to make everything perfect, then I’m a ball of anxiety by the time guests arrive. But over the last few years, I’ve enlisted the help of my favorite grocery store to take off some of the pressure. Sure, I still go all-out on memorable main dishes and swoon-worthy desserts, but adding these inexpensive finds from Aldi has been an easy way to up my party game without adding stress.

Box of crackers and cheese from Aldi on the countertop
Photo: Taste of Home

Cheese & Crackers

Aldi has a lot of choices in the cracker aisle, but my favorite is their Savoritz 6 Cracker Assortment. From water crackers to multigrain and seeded, there’s a flavor and texture to compliment every type of cheese on your tray for just $3.29 per box. After you’ve grabbed your crackers, head over to the refrigerated dairy case to pick out your favorite cheeses like marinated fresh mozzarella ($3.69 for 8 oz.), honey goat cheese, brie, gruyere and flavored cheese like roasted garlic with tomato and basil–all at unbeatable prices. And just like that, appetizers are taken care of. Thank you, Aldi.

Two flavors of sparkling soda on a countertop
Photo: Taste of Home

Beverages

Aldi is already known for its inexpensive variety of trendy wines and microbrews, which I do love, but I am more drawn to their non-alcoholic libations. They carry craft sodas like ginger, orange and root beer, imported mineral water, Italian-style soda and an assortment of flavored sparkling water. Kids and nondrinkers cheer for the unexpected choices, which feel more celebratory than water, iced tea and cola. These bubbly drinks also do double duty at the bar as mixers for holiday cocktails.

Two stacked boxes of candies on a countertop
Photo: Taste of Home

Candies

My favorite category of frugal finds is Aldi’s assorted candies, which range in price from $2.99 to $4.99. I arrange them in glass bowls on side tables for guests to discover as they mingle. Must-haves include chocolate-covered pecan quinoa clusters, soft strawberry licorice and dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels. Keep an eye on the kiddos, though. Entire dishes of candy have been known to disappear from my parties.

Wrapped bread on the countertop
Photo: Taste of Home

Artisan-Stye Bread

As a food editor, you’d think I’d have it together enough to manage a loaf of homemade bread or rolls in addition to my other dishes, but I don’t. Maybe it’s because I’m also a mom of young kids (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), but Aldi has me covered. They carry loaves of sourdough and rosemary plus brioche buns, ciabatta rolls and more. I slice and toast the focaccia for crostini and include the specialty buns and rolls on the buffet for hot ham sandwiches.

Bag of cookie with some out in a glass cup
Photo: Taste of Home

Cookies

I do love to bake (and have a sweet tooth), so including a decadent homemade dessert, like holiday cheesecake, isn’t usually a problem for me. But, just like the candies, having gourmet cookies stashed here and there for guests to find like unexpected treasures is part of what makes my parties special. Whether it’s creme-filled wafer rolls for $2.99 per tin (think Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies), chocolate chip biscotti, anise pizzelles or chocolate-covered butter cookies, your guests will find a favorite.

When I buy special party foods at Aldi, I know I’m not going to blow my budget. I even save enough money to grab a bouquet of flowers on my way out the door for no-fuss tablescaping (who could pass up a $3.99 bouquet of mixed flowers?). Aldi’s cheap party foods give me one less thing to stress out about during the holidays, which is more than I can say about holiday shopping, gift wrapping, Christmas pageant costumes and who has to sit next to crazy Uncle Ed at dinner.


By Peggy Woodward, RDN

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News

This Market Chain Just Dropped Candy From Its Checkout Lines

Aldi-Candy-Checkout

That temptation of grabbing that last-minute candy bar at the grocery checkout line is all too real. East coast supermarket chain Aldi wants to get rid of that tempation for its shoppers.

Aldi has announced they’re losing the checkout sweets at their stores and replacing them with healthier alternatives, The Chicago Tribune reports. This includes getting rid of chocolates and sugary bites and replacing them with dried fruit, granola bars and trail mix.

The company wanted to give customers a way to “feel good” about the checkout choices they make when it comes to snacks.

With nearly 1,500 in the United States, Aldi wants to finish its transition by the end of 2016. Locations of Aldi stores in the United Kingdom have already finished swapping out sweets.

Those who immediately go to that angry place, calm down. You can still walk to the other side of the store where they sell candy. You just won’t find them at the checkout line.

You may also remember Target testing something similar a while back.

Photo: Aldi Facebook

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News

Price War Wages on: Why Milk Is Cheaper Than Bottled Water in the UK

British supermarkets have not been living up to their superlative.

The “Big Four” supermarket chains in the UK (Tesco, Walmart’s ASDA, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons) are your standard, labyrinthian grocery stores that have faced some competition from the German discount chains Aldi and Lidl over the past couple of decades. Aldi and Lidl offer a no-frills shopping experience where many products are own-brand, similar to Costco and its Kirkland brand, which is enticing customers away from the native chains.

The Big Four have been desperately combating the increasing market share of Aldi and Lidl as post-recession consumers eschew store loyalty for lower prices.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel

While it seems like Aldi and Lidl are barely in the running, their steady growth has contributed to declining sales at the Big Four, which tend to respond to quarterly setbacks with competitive pricing. Throughout 2014, however, the ebb and flow of price wars between the companies escalated from reliable streams of competition to a raging storm in uncharted waters of murky legality.

For most of 2014, milk was cheaper than bottled water in the UK, dipping to 43 pence sterling (65 cents USD) per liter over the holiday season, according to price collation from Brand View. While the published data has been largely reported with an asterisk due to its sole coverage of multi-packs of own-brand milk, it’s these promotional brands’ prices that are trying to draw customers away from Aldi and Lidl.

Why cry over insanely cheap, spilled milk? Because the Big Four collectively committed hundreds of millions of pounds sterling to price cutting thousands of products in 2014 and there’s no end in sight for the spending spree.

Supermarket price wars tend to fall into the realm of competitive pricing, but this long-term battle in the UK is crossing into predatory pricing, malicious price-cutting with the intent of destroying a business. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK is meant to protect consumers from predatory pricing, but, similarly to Federal Trade Commission policies in the US, this offense is extremely difficult to prove and enforce.

The Big Four collectively committed hundreds of millions of pounds sterling to price cutting thousands of products in 2014.

The Big Four, or one company in particular, would have to successfully annihilate another company’s market share in order for the CMA to step in. All the current price wars are accomplishing is increased hybrid consumerism, resulting in lower overall sales for the Big Four.

Basically, they’re destroying themselves.

Privately owned companies Aldi and Lidl don’t have to answer to investors which allows them to focus on bringing discounts to customers (and occasionally infuriating unions). Their business models lend themselves kindly to this type of deal-oriented consumer spending, so their profits have increased even though they haven’t engaged in this price warfare.

Waitrose, a high-end UK grocer that lies somewhere between a Gelson’s and a Whole Foods, and independent convenience stores alike, have also been gobbling up market share due to the shopping cart diversity consumers are seeking.

Price-reductions2

Tesco seems to be the first of the Big Four realizing the days of unwavering customer allegiance and one-stop shopping are long gone. As Britain’s leading grocer, Tesco has felt the waves of this paradigm shift the harshest, especially on top of their failed Fresh and Easy venture in the US and a 263 million pounds sterling (nearly $400 million USD) accounting scandal that would make Mel Brooks’ head spin. A slew of different cost-cutting methods, including closing unprofitable stores and moving to less expensive headquarters, were announced at the start of the year in an attempt to instill faith in investors and the public.

The days of unwavering customer allegiance and one-stop shopping are long gone.

Of course, their accounting scandal isn’t disappearing as fast as their profit margins, and with good reason. Profits were overstated in an official report directly reflecting Tesco taking fee payments from suppliers earlier and paying them later than they should have.

Because, you know, who needs happy, stable suppliers?

Begbies Traynor, a firm specializing in corporate restructuring, revealed in a recent report that all of the Big Four have been manhandling suppliers and extending payment terms. The firm also found a 92 percent increase in British food and beverage manufacturers in “significant distress” in the past year and that more than 100 of these suppliers will likely go under by the end of 2015.

“Worryingly, with 3.6 million people employed in the UK food supply chain, the economic and political risks associated with the current price war are now reaching boiling point ahead of May’s election.” -Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor

With most of Aldi’s and Lidl’s inventory consisting of imported goods, their success was not shared with British suppliers nor has the recently appointed grocery code adjudicator, Christine Tacon, proven to be useful during the price war. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which Tacon reports to, simply points fingers at the CMA.

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For our US readers, you’re probably feeling pretty lucky to be an American right now, right? Well, here’s a direct quote from the FTC’s official government website:

“Although the FTC examines claims of predatory pricing carefully, courts, including the Supreme Court, have been skeptical of such claims.”

Relax. Even with Lidl expanding to the US, this black hole of predatory pricing is unlikely to cross the pond with it. The sheer size of the US and the density of the grocery market have already done a decent job of keeping Walmart at bay. And with smaller chains like Publix maintaining strongholds on certain regions, more diversity will certainly be welcomed.

Sorry, Brits. Your government is still a never-ending roll of red tape.

Main picthx The Independent