North Country Smokehouse recalls sausages mislabeled as gluten-free

North Country Smokehouse is recalling approximately 2,601 pounds of pork sausage products that were improperly branded as gluten free.

CLAREMONT — North Country Smokehouse is recalling approximately 2,601 pounds of sausage that it improperly branded as gluten free.

The product has a gluten free claim represented on the front of the bottom left corner of label. However, the product contains gluten in the form of wheat, which also is included in the product’s list of ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The ready-to-eat pork sausages were produced on Feb. 13. The 12-oz. vacuum-sealed packages contain four pieces of North Country Smokehouse Natural Irish Brand Banger Sausage and a use-by date of April 15, 2019. The establishment number in the USDA inspection is 5390A.

Alicia Baker, brand manager for North Country Smokehouse, said the recall was connected to one day of production and that the sausages were distributed to only two of the company’s customers: a distributor in Vermont and a Whole Foods location in the Mid-Atlantic. She said this was the first recall in the company’s history.

“We were able to get the majority of the product back,” Baker said Wednesday.

The Claremont company mistakenly added the gluten free seal to the sausages as part of a “full label rebranding” because many of its products are gluten free, a designation that has become increasingly popular due to prevalence of food allergies, she said.

North Country Smokehouse notified Department of Agriculture officials March 11 after it received a consumer complaint. Consumers who have purchased the products are urged not to consume them and are asked to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

“It’s always unfortunate, but the good news is that it was extremely contained,” Baker said. “Our quality department does an exceptional job of tracking the batches and the lots, meaning that they’re able to follow the chain from production to distribution, helping us to recall the product quickly and efficiently.”

Consumers with questions can contact Baker at (603) 543-0234, ext. 214.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Mike Cote is the business editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. Contact him at mcote@unionleader.com or (603) 206-7724.