Food safety is forefront in the news this week after a California packing company initiated a voluntary recall of fruit it sold at Trader Joe’s, Costco, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., and Ralphs stores.
The recall is related to specific lots of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots in packages assembled from June 1 – July 12 that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
What is Listeria?
Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It is particularly problematic for anyone with a compromised immune system, including:
- Older adults
- Pregnant women
- Newborns, and
- Other sick individuals
Listeria is found in soil and water, and animals can cross contaminate to foods such as uncooked meats and vegetables, or unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses.
The safest way to protect yourself against listeria is to cook and pasteurize, since this kills Listeria.
Hot dogs and deli meats can be sources of Listeria, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid eating these foods unless they are reheated to steaming hot.
How Serious is the Threat of Listeria?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- About 1,600 people in the US get sick from Listeria each year
- Listeria is the 3rd leading cause of death from food poisoning
- At least 90% of those with Listeria infections are pregnant women or newborns, people aged 65 or older, or those with compromised immune system
How Can You Avoid Listeria?
Besides the obvious avoidance of contaminated product, if you are in one of the at-risk populations, make sure to also steer clear of the riskiest foods for Listeria, including:
- Raw sprouts
- Raw milk (unpasteurized milk)
- Soft cheeses (made from unpasteurized milk)
- Deli meats and hot dogs that are cold and not heated
- Smoked seafood
To learn more about Listeria prevention, click here.
Regarding the recent fruit recall, you can find the FDA’s press release with affected lot numbers here.