October 22, 2016

Should You Be Worried About the Listeria Recalls?

A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to CRF Frozen Foods products was first discovered in March 2016. Since then, the company has recalled al of its organic and traditional fruit, vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. And dozens of secondary recalls for products containing those ingredients have flooded the market. And a massive recall of sunflower seeds for possible Listeria contamination has triggered secondary recalls. Now, a new recall for walnuts that may be contaminated with Listeria has been issued.

Listeria outbreak

So should you be worried about these recalls and the outbreak? First, know that there is zero tolerance for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in ready to eat foods. In frozen foods, especially vegetables that may be cooked in the microwave oven, cold spots could leave active bacteria. You should not eat these recalled products.

But listeriosis primarily affects people who fall into certain groups. Listeriosis can be a life-threatening illness. Those who are most affected are people over the age of 65, anyone with a weakened immune system or a chronic illness, and pregnant women. Healthy people rarely develop invasive listeriosis with its serious consequences, but they can develop an unpleasant illness with diarrhea, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. And listeriosis can be spread person-to-person.

If you purchased any of the recalled products, throw them away in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trashcan. This precaution is so other people and animals can’t eat the products and potentially get sick and spread the illness. Wash your refrigerator or freezer, cupboards, drawers, or pantry, or anyplace you stored the recalled products with a solution of one tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach and a gallon of warm water. Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and freezing does not kill it. Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling the recalled products and after cleaning.

If you do get sick within 70 days after eating the product, see your doctor and tell her about this recall. Symptoms usually start within a few weeks, even though it can take up to 2 months to get sick. Not everyone will have the same symptoms. If you are worried, call your doctor. Remember that they are there for reassurance as well as diagnosis and treatment.

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