1. Health
Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Listeriosis - Listeria and the Texas Celery Recall

By October 21, 2010

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We are unfortunately getting used to recalls from the FDA and USDA, such as the recent egg recall, sandwich meat recall, and baby formula recall.

Today, the Texas Department of State Health Services ordered a recall of all products shipped since January 2010 from Sangar Fresh Cut Produce in San Antonio. This recall was prompted by positive tests for Listeria on celery from the Sangar plant, which followed 10 cases of listeriosis, including 5 deaths, the majority of which were in Bexar, Travis and Hidalgo counties and have been linked to celery from Sangar.

In addition to chopped celery, the Sangar plant ships cut fresh produce in sealed packages to restaurants and other institutions, such as hospitals and schools.

Although the recalled Sangar produce was not thought to be sold in grocery stores, if you have any of the recalled produce, you should either discard or return it. Parents should also watch their kids, especially if they have underlying medical problems, for symptoms of listeriosis, which can include fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. More severe symptoms, including headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions, can also occur if the Listeria infection spreads to a child's central nervous system. Keep in mind that symptoms can develop any time from 2 to 30 days after eating a contaminated food, so try to remember your child's possible exposure to the recalled produce if your child gets any of these symptoms later.

Listeria is an important cause of food poisoning, even though people rarely seem to know as much about it as they do about Salmonella and E. coli. With an estimated 2,500 cases a year, and 500 deaths, more people should likely learn about Listeria and how to avoid it, including cooking foods thoroughly, washing fruits and vegetables, and not drinking raw milk. Avoiding soft-cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, keeping your refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or colder, and using precooked and ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can are also good ways to avoid Listeria infections.

Related:
Preventing Food Poisoning
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Food Storage and Food Safety

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