Recalls of pitted fruit ( for example, peaches, plums, nectarines) and a few other packaged products have occurred across the nation due to Listeria this past week of July 2014.
Listeria in Fruit: Wawona Packing Company
Wawona Packing Company found contamination in an internal investigation of furits packed between June 1 and July 12 and began the recall. Wegmans, a family owned store collection, then made prerecorded calls to some of their consumers, recalling fruits and their home baked products.
Retailers including Trader Joes, Costco’s, and Sam’s Club are among the super stores affected by the recall. The list further includes Whole Foods, BJs, Dillon’s, Save-a lot, Martins, Wal-Mart, Hannaford’s, and Food 4 Less, among others.
Recently, Great American Products (Texas) has recalled some ready to eat products. The recalls have been voluntary, meaning it is not certain there is further infection but this is for protection since listeria was found in the original packinghouse. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also issued a recall of foods packaged by Wegmans; Sweet to Eat, and Harvest Sweet Brands.
What is Listeria?
Listeria is a microorganism we don’t often find in food, but instead find in water and dirt. Listeria particularly affects immune-sensitive people, including ill or older folk, pregnant women, and children. It is a form of food poisoning caused by ingesting food contaminated with the bacterium. A wide variety of food can be affected and eating “organic only” does not protect you from possible infection, as the recent epidemic has shown.
Symptoms of Listeria Infection
According to CDC, “a person with Listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has ‘invasive’ infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.”
Listeria is bacterial and can thus be treated with antibiotics. There have been no reports of mass illness so far. Everyone reacts differently to infection – some people have no symptoms at all. Incubation is as early as 3 days and as long as over 3 months.
Listeria Outbreak: How Often Does this Happen? Should I Panic?
The last large outbreak, according to the CDC was in 2011 in US. No deaths have been reported so far from this recent outbreak but the CDC reports about 260 deaths a year from Listeria in general. Authorities aren’t certain that infected fruits or products are on the shelves; the discovery was made in the packing house not in a store.
Be cautious, but don’t panic.
If you feel unwell and have diarrhea or know you have eaten some of the fruits or recalled foods, see your health care provider. Pregnant women and children and the elderly should call their doctors with any questions or present to urgent care if feeling ill. The illness in otherwise healthy people is often self-limiting. That is, it will go away on its own.
Remove any recalled products from your home, and wash out your refrigerator with a water and bleach solution if you’d like to take extra precautions.
Can I Buy Fruits Again?
Yes. The fruit now being released back to markets is not from the original source and has been checked. If you see it in your market, you can assume that it’s safe to buy it – at least safe from this recall – although some shelves have remained clear of some fruits and products so far. Download the product recalls app from FDA.gov if you want to be kept up to date on the latest recalls, right on your smart phone.
Listeria Recall: Wash Fruit and Be Cautious
Always wash fruit, but there are no guarantees. The listeria may be inside the fruit – in which case cooking may help. Either way, always wash your hands before and after handling food, and be aware of food recalls.