Recent Listeria Outbreak Results In Even More Product Recalls [Video]

The recent listeria outbreak in early May that resulted in the recall of hundreds of frozen food items has soldiered on for a solid six weeks now, resulting in an overwhelming amount of recalled food items in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada that shows no sign of stopping.

Listeria monocytogenes found in sunflower seeds, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, are the most recent development to have sparked a major domino effect of food product recalls, including Clif Bars, Atkins Bars, Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars, and Kashi Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars.

SunOpta, the company which recalled the listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds, released a statement in late May about the unfortunate finding that led to the recall and removal of these products from store shelves.

"SunOpta is committed to ensuring consumer safety and providing quality products and ingredients to customers. The Company has completed its root cause analysis and is working with food safety experts to implement corrective and preventative measures. In an abundance of caution, SunOpta is voluntarily extending the period during which it is recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes."
Listeria contamination is now such a large problem that the legal blog Food Poisoning Bulletin, published by national food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker, has published a new round-up of the food product recalls that have accumulated due to the listeriosis outbreak that has now sickened at least two.

Pritzker reports that consumers should take this threat of listeria very seriously, and check the products that they purchase in order to determine whether they are part of the listeria-related recalls. While listeria is often regarded as a mild issue and is usually only a fervent topic of conversation when it comes to pregnant women (who are usually advised to avoid soft cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and mold-ripened cheeses such as blue cheese specifically because of the threat of listeria), it can actually cause surprisingly severe symptoms in healthy adults.

"Consumers should check product information carefully as Listeria can cause serious illness and death. Symptoms of an infection, which can take up to 70 days to develop, include high fever, muscle aches, neck stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and infection in newborns. Others at heightened risk are young children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems. Consumers who have purchased these products and eaten them should photograph the packaging, then throw away the product in a sealed package and monitor themselves for symptoms. After the product has been discarded, wash [your] hands well with soap and water. Then clean the area where the product was stored with a solution of one tablespoon [of] liquid chlorine bleach to one gallon of warm water to kill any remaining bacteria. Listeria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and freezing does not kill it."
Listeria is also a common problem when it comes to bagged salads and raw vegetables, as well as ready-made salads found in typical American grocery stores. Food Poisoning Bulletin lists several salad products in addition to the granola, trail mix, and snack bars containing contaminated sunflower seeds. However, according to the list's heading -- Sunflower Seed Recalls for Listeria Monocytogenes -- the salad products that are included on the list are not contaminated with listeria due to vegetables or cheeses, but all of these products are affected by salad toppings containing the sunflower seeds that were initially recalled by SunOpta.
Listeria can also be contracted from processed meats, paté, unpasteurized milk, and even butter or ice cream.

[Image courtesy of James Folsom/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain]