There has been a series of food safety recalls, a majority involving listeria contamination in frozen or packaged food. Listeria outbreaks can be deadly. There is not much understanding among the public with regard to what listeriosis is, whom it affects, how it is caused and what we can do to prevent it.
Here are five things you need to know about listeria and the recent outbreaks that spurred nationwide recalls:
1. Listeria can be fatal and it is extremely common. Listeriosis is an infection caused by eating food that is tainted by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes. It primarily affects certain groups of people more than others.
For example, the very young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are more vulnerable to listerioris than others. In pregnant women, listeriosis could cause stillbirths or miscarriages. The most common symptoms of listeriosis include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. However, the bacteria are extremely commonly found in most refrigerators.
2. Recent food recalls have been linked to the same listeria outbreak. In early May, CRF Frozen Foods issued a widespread recall of frozen vegetables and fruits that were processed at its plant in Pasco, Washington. The recall included 358 products under 42 separate brands. The recall has since been expanded to include other companies such as Kroger, ConAgra and Trader Joe’s. Also, this week, Ajinomoto Windsor recalled more than 47 million pounds of meat and poultry products tied to the same outbreak. Eight people from three states – California, Washington and Maryland – have become infected and their illnesses have been linked to food produced by CRF Frozen Foods. All of these individuals were hospitalized.
3. You should not consume any product that has been recalled. If you have any food products in your freezer or refrigerator that have been recalled, do not consume them. Isolate them immediately and discard them. If you have consumed any of this food and suspect you have become ill because of it, preserve the product so it can be independently tested in a laboratory for pathogens.
4. Listeria can contaminate other food through spills in the refrigerator. Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away, especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat and raw poultry. Consider using paper towels so you don’t transfer germs from a cloth towels. Be sure to clean out the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with warm water and liquid soap.
5. The food industry is currently working on preventing food contamination. The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 2011. The goal of this law o is reduce food safety risk and establish more stringent regulations.
If you or a loved one has been sickened, or if you have lost a loved one as the result of food poisoning, please contact an experienced California food poisoning attorney who can protect your rights and hold the negligent parties accountable.