The dangerous and deadly listeria found in recalled frozen vegetables and fruit can be cause of many serious infections and even death in certain people. Here’s what you need to know about the harmful bacteria – listeria.
This very important information for all those who enjoy in frozen vegetable and fruit:
Maybe right now that package of frozen kale, spinach, berries, peas or corn into your fridge may contain deadly listeria.
That is group of bacteria that can be reason for heavy and even more, sometimes fatal infections. The first on its attack are little children, older people and all those with not so strong immune system.
On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods voluntarily recalled 15 frozen vegetable items that may be contaminated with listeria, and on May 2, 2016, the manufacturer expanded the initial recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. For a complete and updated list of the recalled frozen foods, please visit the FDA website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed CRF Frozen Foods that seven people from three states have been hospitalized as result. Two of the seven infected have died, although the cause of death was not due to listeria.
So the question is – what is deadly listeria and why is it estimated to cause 19 percent of all deaths from foodborne infection?
The following 6 facts are the answer:
- Listeria is a type of bacteria that can contaminate food, and when eaten, cause a serious infection called listeriosis. It commonly affects people with weakened immune systems, but on rare occasions can affect healthy people as well. The most common symptoms of listeria are fever and muscle aches, along with diarrhea.
- Listeria has been found in raw, cooked, and processed foods. It’s not just frozen foods that are susceptible to listeria contamination. The bacteria has also been found in fruits, vegetables, uncooked meats and vegetables, soft cheeses, and cooked and processed meats. Unpasteurized milk products are especially likely to contain listeria. Although the bacteria is killed by pasteurization and cooking, in ready-to-eat foods like hot dogs and deli meats, the contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.
- The incubation period for listeria infection is surprisingly long.While most foodborne illnesses tend to affect a person immediately after the tainted food is consumed, the diarrhea and fever that can come from consuming listeria bacteria may not hit until much later. “It can be one to three weeks, or two months in some cases,” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.
- Listeria can flourish in the cold. In general, the CDC recommends that your refrigerator be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and the freezer at zero degrees or lower, to keep food safe. But unlike other foodborne bacteria like salmonella, listeria can thrive in cold temperatures — even in a fridge. That’s why it’s important to throw out any foods that can potentially be contaminated with it, even if your refrigerator is properly chilled.
- Listeria can live in soil and water. After a 2011 listeria outbreak involving cantaloupes, the CDC warned people not to try to wash bacteria away from affected fruit, as both the inside and the outside may be contaminated. This is because listeria survives in both soil and water. This hardy bacteria can even live in a food processing plant for years.
- Listeria is most likely to infect four types of people. People with healthy immune systems rarely fall ill from listeria. It’s more likely to affect people with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and those with immune disorders such as HIV. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than healthy people to develop a severe infection from listeria, according to the CDC. The severity of the infection in higher-risk people accounts for the relatively high death rate of 20 percent.
Protect Yourself From Deadly Listeria
By following good food safety rules, you can avoid listeria as well as other foodborne illnesses. Always cook raw meats thoroughly, rinse raw fruits and vegetables before eating — this can help wash off other bacteria, although not listeria — and avoid drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk.
If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or a state health agency orders a food recall on a product you have at home, and you aren’t sure if your purchase is affected, throw it out to be on the safe side. For pregnant women and others at high risk, the CDC recommends avoiding hot dogs, deli meats, and processed lunch meats — or heating them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating — as well as avoiding unpasteurized cheeses and smoked seafoods.