December 15, 2017

Listeria Illness Linked to 2014 Wawona Stone Fruit Recall

Listeria in stone fruit produced by Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, Calif,  has been linked to at least one illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This marks the first time stone fruit has been linked to Listeria illness.

In July 2014, Wawona recalled certain lots of stone fruit including whole peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots for potential contamination with Listeria monocytognes. The fruits were sold at a number of stores including Costco, Sam’s Club and Trader Joe’s.

The recall stated that no illnesses had been reported at the time of the recall. But many people suspected they were ill. Food Poisoning Bulletin received dozens of contacts from concerned consumers. So did public health agencies.

“After the initial recall, clinicians, state and local health departments, CDC, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received many inquiries about listeriosis from concerned consumers, many of whom had received automated telephone calls informing them that they had purchased recalled fruit. During July 19–31, the CDC Listeria website received >500,000 page views, more than seven times the views received during the previous 52 weeks. However, no molecular information from L. monocytogenes isolates was available to assess whether human illnesses might be linked to these products.”

Until early August.

Sweet 2 Eat Listeria Recall fTwo weeks after the recall was announced, health officials uploaded the DNA fingerprint of Listeria found in the recalled fruit to PulseNet, an outbreak detection network, and matches cultured from humans began showing up. Patients sickened by the same strains cultured from the fruit were identified in Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Minnesota.

Traceback investigations confirmed that the Massachusetts patient had purchased and eaten the recalled fruit. The Minnesota patient purchased fruit after the store said it had removed the recalled fruit. The South Carolina patient could not remember eating stone fruit before becoming ill. And the Illinois patient could not be reached by health officials.

Young children, seniors, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems are most at risk for Listeria infection. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea Among pregnant women, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths .

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