By Daisy Luther
Yet another recall has hit the shelves of a store near you. This time, it’s something really surprising. It’s fresh fruit.
The FDA has announced that peaches, nectarines, and plums sold in more than a dozen states could potentially be tainted with Listeria monocytogenes. Jac. Vandenberg, Inc. of Yonkers, New York has recalled 1,727 cartons of peaches, 1,207 cartons of nectarines and 365 cartons of plums.
The fruit was distributed in the following states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.
If you live in one of those states, beware of peaches, plums, and nectarines from Aldis, Costco, Fairway Market, Hannaford, Market Basket, and WalMart.
The FDA reports:
The peaches and nectarines are sold as a bulk retail produce item with PLU sticker (PLU# 4044, 3035, 4378) showing the country of origin of Chile. The peaches, nectarines and plums sold at ALDI are packaged in a 2-pound bag with the brand Rio Duero, EAN# 7804650090281, 7804650090298, 7804650090304. The nectarines sold at Costco are packaged in a 4-pound plastic clamshell with the brand Rio Duero, EAN# 7804650090212.
The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by the packing house which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. The company has ceased the distribution of the product as FDA and the company continue[s] their investigation as to what caused the problem. (source)
If you have purchased any of these goods from any of these places, you can return them to the store for a full refund. If you have questions, you can contact the company at [email protected].
What is listeria?
Listeria is a pathogenic bacteria that causes the infection listeriosis. The Food Poisoning Journal reports:
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy. (source)
Listeriosis can be very serious. The incubation time after being exposed to the bacteria is one to eight weeks. Symptoms can run the gamut.
A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. (source)
How does food get contaminated with listeria?
The bacteria is often found in soil and water. Animals can carry it and infect meat and dairy products. Even worse, the bacteria is capable of surviving in a processing facility for years, contaminating the food packaged there.
Listeria can also reside in your refrigerator and contaminate other foods there.
Contaminated food can bring Listeria into the home. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria germs can grow and spread in the refrigerator. So if you unknowingly refrigerate Listeria-contaminated food, the germs not only multiply at the cool temperature, they could contaminate your refrigerator and spread to other foods there, increasing the likelihood that you and your family will become sick. (source)
If you brought home food that was contaminated with listeria, you need to thoroughly clean your fridge and throw out in food that the contaminated food came in contact with. The FDA advises:
- Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away—especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry. Consider using paper towels to avoid transferring germs from a cloth towel.
- Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with warm water and liquid soap, then rinse. As an added measure of caution, you can sanitize your refrigerator monthly using the same procedures described below for kitchen surfaces. (source)
How do you prevent your family from getting listeriosis?
Prevention methods recommended by the FDA are:
FDA and FSIS recommend that consumers at risk for developing listeriosis—including older adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems—reheat hot dogs and lunch meats until steaming hot.
At-risk consumers are also advised to avoid unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses (such as feta, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, “queso blanco,” “queso fresco” or Panela), unless they are made with pasteurized milk.
And Listeria can sometimes be found in other foods. In 2011, a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis tied to contaminated cantaloupes caused illnesses and deaths.
Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says FDA is aware of cases of foodborne illness caused by bacteria that can live in the kitchen and spread to foods that had not been contaminated.
Consumers are advised to wash all fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you plan to peel the produce first. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. (source)