The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced an outbreak of the Listeria monogytogenes bacteria in frozen vegetables and fruits, which has led to the recall of over 350 products from 42 different brands. These brands were carried by a number of major American and Canadian grocers, including Trader Joe’s, Costco and Safeway.
What Is Listeria?
Listeria is a foodborne pathogen that is not as common as E. coli or salmonella, but that is more lethal than either. A healthy immune system should be able to withstand an infection caused by Listeria, but once the bug enters into the bloodstream it can cause listeriosis. Listeriosis kills 20 percent of its victims. People with weaker immune systems — such as older adults, newborns and pregnant women — are more at risk of infection. Adults over the age of 65 are four times as likely to get listeria than the common population, while pregnant women are ten times as likely. Although they may not develop listeriosis themselves, it can threaten their babies. Symptoms include fever, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions and stiff neck.
The Current Listeria Outbreak
According to the CDC, there have been eight people affected so far. Six have contracted listeria in California as well as one each in Maryland and Washington. Both patients in Maryland and Washington died, although it was determined that listeria was not their ultimate cause of death.The CDC has stated that the frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods are the most likely source for the listeria.
What to Do
Consumers should inspect the vegetable packages in their freezer and check the UPC codes along with the “best by” dates against the FDA’s list. If there is a match, the package should either be disposed of or taken back to the store for a refund. Although listeria can be killed if the vegetables are properly cooked, they would need to reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit — and it’s not worth the risk.
Be aware of the recent listeria problem and visit us at the Benefits Store for more updates on important health information.