If you’re a salad lover reading up on the Dole listeria outbreak, you are no doubt very concerned about the packaged salad that may be sitting in your refrigerator. Before you panic, it’s best to know a few essential facts about the ongoing listeria problem. Here is everything you need to do to avoid being affected by the Dole listeria outbreak — and what to do if you’re afraid the problem is close to home.
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First, you’ll need to know exactly what’s going on. According to the CDC, a Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio is “ground zero” for the listeria outbreak. CNN reports the problem has affected people from multiple states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Victims ranged in age from 3 to 83.
The FDA announced a series of recalls on Friday. This includes voluntary recalls from Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 23, 2016
Second, if you don’t know, listeria is a type of bacteria. Foodsafety.gov writes that listeria can be found “in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle.”
You should also be aware that listeria a very tough germ. It can thrive in very cold conditions whereas other germs would die. It’s often found in processing plants and unless great care is taken to get rid of it, the bacteria will survive the trip to the grocery store, continue to flourish among the chilled salad packages, and have no problem thriving while in your refrigerator.
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Another important detail addresses the source of the listeria problem: Dole. The listeria illnesses were investigated by the CDC beginning back in September 2015. Then in January, the organization announced that it had successfully traced the outbreak to a single Dole facility in Springfield, Ohio. The CDC also warned consumers to stay away from any salads packaged as “Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar or President’s Choice.”
The packaged items linked to the outbreak can be identified via the “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing codes found on the packages.
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Fourth, you should know that listeria can cause “a serious, life-threatening illness.” Symptoms brought on by ingesting listeria include fever, a stiff neck, confusion, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. The most important symptoms to pay attention to are having a fever and stiff neck, although all of these should motivate you to contact a doctor immediately.
According to the CDC, 12 people have been hospitalized thus far in connection with the listeria outbreak. One person from Michigan died from listeriosis. Those most vulnerable to disease brought on by this bacteria are senior citizens, newborns, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. HIV/AIDs, cancer, diabetes, and alcohol abuse can also increase safety risks associated with listeria.
— Global News Toronto (@globalnewsto) January 23, 2016
Finally, it’s important to remember that you can avoid illness associated with the Dole listeria outbreak by using common sense. First, avoid the salads mentioned by the CDC. Second, if you do buy produce, remember to wash it thoroughly before eating. Remember to wash your hands when dealing with raw, uncooked foods and to clean utensils and surfaces used while handling these food items.
Both taking the time to carefully consider what produce you buy and practicing sanitary habits can go a long way towards protecting you from listeria and other bacteria outbreaks.
— Houston News (@abc13houston) January 22, 2016
If you wish to learn accurate information about the Dole listeria situation, it’s best to follow the ongoing investigation by the CDC, and follow its advice to the best of your ability.
Also, remember to use common sense and sanitary habits when dealing with produce. It can keep you healthy and even save your life!
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]