More “Healthy” Food Recalled: Multiple Brands of Hummus and Fresh Vegetables

By Dagny Taggart

Earlier this month, we reported that some fresh vegetables sold by stores like Trader Joe’s and Food Lion have been recalled after state inspectors discovered Listeria monocytogenes in a sample. Growers Express LLC launched a recall of the products in question from various retailers in dozens of states.

Growers Express is again telling consumers to toss out certain fresh vegetable products because of a test result showing Listeria contamination, but so far, the company is not revealing who supplied the implicated vegetables.

On July 15, an expansion to the July 1 recall, Growers Express added several products to the list, reports Food Safety News.

Here are the products that are being recalled.

The four products that have been implicated in the update involve Brussels sprouts, green beans, and cauliflower. (See the chart below) The brands involved are Green Giant, Growers Express, and Peak.

To see a chart with information on the products listed in the July 1 recall, please see Yet ANOTHER Fresh Vegetable Recall, Multiple Brands and Stores. Impacted brands include Green Giant Fresh, Growers Express, Signature Farms, Trader Joe’s, and Peak.

While Growers Express has not named their vegetable supplier, the products listed in both recalls originated from the company’s production facility in Biddeford, ME, and were distributed to Massachusetts and Maine. In the recall notice, Growers Express states it is “no longer sourcing vegetables from the suspected cause of the contamination”.

Some hummus products have also been recalled for possible Listeria contamination.

“Dozens of hummus products sold under several grocery brands as well as others are under recall after Listeria monocytogenes was found at a manufacturing facility,” reports Food Safety News:

Pita Pal Foods LP of Houston did not report how many pounds of product are subject to the recall. The company also did not post any product photographs with the notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

The recalled hummus products were made between May 30 and June 25. Pita Pal distributed the products nationwide in the United States and exported some to the United Arab Emirates.

“Consumers who have purchased products listed below with these use-by dates are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund,” according to the company’s recall notice. “Consumers with questions may contact the company at 832-803-9295 or email products@pitapal.com.\” (source)

To see the full list of impacted products, please see Pita Pal Foods, LP Recalls Various Hummus and Dips Due to Possible Health Risk.

Listeria infection can be deadly, so watch for these symptoms.

So far, there are no reported illnesses in relation to the recalled products. However, symptoms of illness caused by Listeria (called listeriosis) can take a long time to appear, and infection can be very serious, as we explained in Listeria Claims a Life: What You Need to Know About This Deadly Outbreak:

People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.

Not everyone exposed to Listeria gets sick from it, but when they do, it can cause serious illness. About 94 percent of people who develop listeriosis – the name of the infection the bacteria causes- end up in the hospital. Approximately one in five victims who become sick from Listeria die from the infection.

If you believe you have been infected with Listeria, experts recommend seeking medical care and tell the doctor about any contaminated food you may have consumed within the last two months. Listeriosis is usually diagnosed when a bacterial culture grows Listeria from a body tissue or fluid, such as blood, spinal fluid, or the placenta. The infection is treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of infection depend on the person and the part of the body affected. Listeria can cause fever and diarrhea like other foodborne illnesses, but that type of infection is rarely diagnosed. (source)

Listeria is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems. Other people can be infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill, according to the CDC:

Listeriosis is usually a mild illness for pregnant women, but it causes severe disease in the fetus or newborn baby. Some people with Listeria infections, most commonly adults 65 years and older and people with weakened immune systems, develop severe infections of the bloodstream (causing sepsis) or brain (causing meningitis or encephalitis). Listeria infections can sometimes affect other parts of the body, including bones, joints, and sites in the chest and abdomen. (source)

Why have there been so many recalls lately?

In an article about the first round of Growers Express recalls, Daisy Luther made some important points:

It’s interesting to note that these products were all handled at the processing plant and that the problem isn’t with the vegetables themselves, but with the plant.

The more produce is handled before it gets to you, the more risk it has of being contaminated. Your best bet is to grow your own gardens. The next best choice is to purchase vegetables from the farmer’s market. Finally, if you purchase them from the grocery store, avoid things that are peeled and cut up for you.

This week, we’ve also discussed 16 different brands of dog foods linked to heart disease. Last week our concern was arsenic in bottled water, and the week before that it was E. coli in flour and hepatitis in frozen berries. It sure makes you wonder what food is next and whether you’re eating something from the next recall right now. (source)

And, as Cat Ellis mentioned in her article Here’s Why There Are So Many Food Recalls Lately. the more centralized our food system becomes, the more often we can expect these kinds of problems.

Microorganisms on contaminated food spread to food processing machinery, which then contaminates other food products sharing the same machinery.

Bottom line is, the more centralized our food is, the more industrialized our food is, the more monoculture and CAFO farms there are, the more our food supply is at risk. The Food Safety and Modernization Act has done nothing to prevent or mitigate these risks. It has only burdened small farmers. And food centralization itself has a long and horrible history.

Do you have any of the recalled products in your fridge?

Growers Express is urging those who purchased any of the recalled products from the affected “best by” or “pack dates” (or with an unreadable date code) not to consume them and to throw the products away. “Please refer to the toll-free number listed on each package with any questions or requests for a refund. Visit www.GrowersExpress.com/voluntaryrecall for the most up-to-date information,” the notice states.

Here’s what you need to know to avoid infection.

People at higher risk for severe Listeria infection should handle deli-sliced meats and cheeses carefully to prevent illness.

Retailers should clean and sanitize deli slicers frequently and other areas where deli products are prepared, stored, or served to avoid cross-contamination.

Here’s a list of additional tips from Foodsafety.gov:

  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, or seafood to a safe internal temperature.
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
  • Persons in higher-risk groups should heat hot dogs, cold cuts, and deli meats before eating them.

What do you think?

Are there things you do to avoid infection with foodborne illnesses like Listeria? What do you think about all these recent recalls? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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