A cluster of elderberries

Organic elderberries sold in 159 Natural Grocers stores across 20 states have been recalled, according to an announcement from the company posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. Natural Grocers said its supplier initially certified that the product tested negative but later notified the company of a possible contamination.

No illnesses have been reported.

Consumers purchasing elderberries at Natural Grocers stores in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are urged to return them to the store for a full refund or throw them away. Look up store locations at the Natural Grocers store directory.

More on Food Safety

The recalled berries are packaged in 4-ounce, clear plastic bags bearing a “Natural Grocers” label and stamped with the following pack date codes: 20-216, 20-225, 20-246, 20-265, and 20-281.

Natural Grocers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. People with weakened immune systems as well as very young and older people are at greatest risk of serious illness, or even death.  

Salmonella is more often associated with raw or undercooked eggs or meat, but it’s not uncommon for the bacteria to contaminate fruits and vegetables. If you’ve purchased the recalled elderberries, don’t assume you can just wash them off and be safe, says James E. Rogers, PhD, director of Food Safety Research & Testing at Consumer Reports. Washing won’t remove all the bacteria, and it doesn’t take many of the berries to make you ill.   

Like other berries, elderberries can be used in baked goods or made into a sauce—similar to the way you’d use cranberries. But typically they’re used in jelly, tea, or syrup.

Elderberry has long been used medicinally, especially for colds and flu. Some research has backed up its effectiveness, but in a recent study, there was no difference in severity or duration of symptoms in people with the flu who took elderberry or a placebo.

The Details

Product recalled: Organic elderberries sold at 159 Natural Grocers stores in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming with pack date codes of: 20-216, 20-225, 20-246, 20-265, and 20-281.

The problem: The elderberries may be contaminated with salmonella.  

The fix: Return the berries to the store where they were purchased for a full refund or toss them into the trash.

How to contact the store: Call Natural Grocers customer service at 303-986-4600, ext. 80801, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST Monday through Friday.