December 10, 2022

Expert Advice: Don’t Eat Enoki Mushrooms At This Time

Consumer Reports is offering expert advice on enoki mushrooms: Just don’t eat them at this time. That type of mushroom is linked to a new Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has sickened at least two people in two states.

Expert Advice: Don't Eat Enoki Mushrooms At This Time

Two years ago, a deadly Listeria outbreak was also linked to enoki mushrooms that were likely imported from Korea. At least 36 people in 17 states were sickened. Thirty-one people were hospitalized, four people died, and there were two fetal losses.

That outbreak prompted the FDA, in July 2022, to issue a country-wide import alert for enoki mushrooms imported from the Republic of Korea. That allows officials to “detain without physical examination.” FDA testing found that 43% of enoki mushrooms sampled from that country were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

In addition, from March 2020 through May 2022, state authorities sampled enoki mushrooms purchased from U.S. grocery stores. Listeria was also detected in multiple state samples, which triggered 21 recalls of those mushrooms. Nine of the recalls were linked to enoki mushrooms grown in Korea.

Import alerts are complicated, since companies can ask for an exemption so they can import enoki mushrooms to the U.S. if they provide documentation that the product is not contaminated. That exemption is called a green list, but ┬áthat specific import alert doesn’t have a green list. We don’t know how the mushrooms linked to the current outbreak entered the country.

So at this point in time, don’t eat enoki mushrooms, especially if you are in a group that is more likely to have serious complications from a Listeria monocytogenes infection. Those groups include the elderly, anyone with a compromised immune system or chronic illness such as diabetes, and pregnant women.

If you do choose to buy and eat enoki mushrooms, they should be handled as if they are contaminated. Keep them away from foods that are eaten uncooked. Cook them thoroughly before consumption. And afterwards, clean your kitchen, including any surfaces the mushrooms may have touched, like cutting boards, countertops, your sink and refrigerator, and utensils, with a mild bleach solution. As always, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the mushrooms.

 

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